Empath Health, Stratum Health System announce merger

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ABOVE: Stratum Health System President and CEO Jonathan Fleece and Empath Health President and CEO Rafael Sciullo. Photo courtesy National Strategies PR.

TAMPA BAY | Empath Health and Stratum Health System announced Feb. 26 that the organizations have entered into formal discussions to merge and become one of the largest nonprofit, hospice-based care networks in the nation.

Empath Health’s nonprofit, integrated network of care supports patients facing chronic or advanced illnesses throughout Tampa Bay. It began in 1977 as Suncoast Hospice and its members include Empath Partners in Care (EPIC), which formed in 2016 after the merger of the AIDS Service Association of Pinellas (ASAP) and Francis House.

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Gabbard ignores LGBTQ survey questions from Human Rights Campaign

By : Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National LGBT Media Association
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ABOVE: Tulsi Gabbard (Photo from Michael Key of the Washington Blade)

Seven current candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination were the among the respondents to an LGBTQ survey the nation’s leading LGBTQ group unveiled Feb. 24, but Tulsi Gabbard — who has been criticized for having an anti-LGBTQ past — wasn’t among them.

The seven current candidates who responded — Joseph Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer and Elizabeth Warren — responded affirmatively to each of HRC’s questions on LGBTQ issues, including whether they support the Equality Act, oppose President Trump’s transgender military ban and will commit to tackling anti-trans violence.

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In SC, Buttigieg faces some black voters wary of a gay candidate

By : Wire Report
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Above: Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg (Photo courtesy from CNN)

CONWAY, S.C. (AP) | South Carolina state Sen. Gerald Malloy is fine with a gay presidential candidate like Pete Buttigieg. His older male relatives are not, and that may be the defining challenge of Buttigieg’s campaign.

As Buttigieg tries to sustain his early success in Iowa and New Hampshire, he has to prove that he can win over African American voters, who make up the vital core of the party base. A relatively small but nonetheless influential number of black South Carolinians may be resistant to him because of his sexuality.

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Va. House of Delegates passes gender-neutral driver’s license bill

By : Philip Van Slooten of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National LGBT Media Association
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ABOVE: Virginia Capitol. (Photo by Michael Key of the Washington Blade)

The Virginia House of Delegates on Feb. 25 passed a bill that requires the Department of Motor Vehicles to offer “nonbinary” as a sex option on driver’s license applications.

Senate Bill 246, introduced by state Sen. Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax County), previously passed the Virginia Senate in a 21-18 vote on Feb. 5. The House approved the bill 57-43.

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Florida organization advocates for transgender women with HIV, immigrants

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: Arianna’s Center staff and supporters attend their organization’s lobby day at the Florida State Capitol on Jan. 28, 2020. (Photo courtesy of Tony Lima)

The founder of a South Florida organization that serves transgender women says her goal remains to change her clients’ lives “in a good way.”

Arianna’s Center CEO Arianna Lint, during an interview with the Washington Blade last month at the National LGBTQ Task Force’s annual Creating Change conference in Dallas, said her organization is “the first resource for transgender” people in Florida who are in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody and once they are released.

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Connecticut Republicans to honor student runners suing school over transgender policy

By : Wire Report
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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) | Connecticut Republicans will honor three high school runners who are suing to block a policy that allows transgender athletes to compete in girls sports, the party chairman said Feb. 24.

Chelsea Mitchell, Alanna Smith and Selina Soule will be given the party’s Courage Award at a fundraising event recognizing women in leadership roles on March 25, state party Chairman J.R. Romano said.

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Wilton Manors Mayor Justin Flippen dies at 41

By : Sallie James of South Florida Gay News
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 Above: Wilton Manors Mayor Justin Flippen (Photo from Facebook)

Wilton Manors Mayor Justin Flippen, who friends described as a big, burly guy with a bright smile and big heart, died of an undisclosed medical condition Feb. 25 en route to the City Commission meeting he was supposed to lead. Flippen was 41.

Flippen was transported to Broward Health Medical Center at approximately 7 p.m. on Feb. 25 due to a serious “medical issue,” according to Wilton Manors Police Chief Paul O’Connell. He was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

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PHOTOS: CAN Community Health’s 2020 Red Ribbon Gala

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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SARASOTA | CAN Community Health welcomed supporters to the Ritz-Carlton Feb. 22 for the organization’s second annual Red Ribbon Gala.

The gathering raises awareness for CAN’s mission to provide a continuum of medical, social and education services to the communities it serves. The evening specifically benefited the organization’s youth initiative.

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Actor Jussie Smollett pleads not guilty to restored charges

By : wire report
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CHICAGO (AP) | Former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett pleaded not guilty Monday to restored charges that accuse him of staging a racist, homophobic attack against himself last year in Chicago and falsely reporting to police that the phony attack was real.

His lawyer, Tina Glandian, entered the not guilty pleas on his behalf to six counts of felony disorderly conduct. She also told Judge James B. Linn that she has asked the Illinois Supreme Court to halt the case.

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Homeless transgender woman brutally murdered in Puerto Rico

By : Michael K. Lavers of the Washington Blade, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: Advocacy group Puerto Rico Para Tod@s calls for no more hate. Photo via Puerto Rico Para Tod@s’ Facebook page.

A homeless transgender woman was brutally murdered in Puerto Rico early Monday.

Pedro Julio Serrano, founder of Puerto Rico Para Tod@s, a Puerto Rican LGBTQ advocacy groups, confirmed media reports that said the victim, who was known as Alexa, was killed in a park in Toa Baja, a municipality that is about 15 miles west of San Juan.

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PHOTOS: Equality Florida’s 2020 Tampa Gala

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA | Equality Florida welcomed supporters to Armature Works Feb. 21 for its annual Tampa Gala, outlining its statewide fight for equality.

The gathering featured silent and live auctions benefiting the organization’s efforts and honored activists Don Murray and Wayne Spiwak. The two have spent their 29 years together fighting for LGBTQ rights and years ago became the first same-sex couple to adopt in Florida.

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Supreme Court to hear if adoption agencies can reject LGBTQ families

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: Advocates in front of the Supreme Court. Washington Blade photo by Michael Key.

The U.S. Supreme Court announced on Monday it has agreed to hear a case from a Philadelphia-based taxpayer-funded adoption agency seeking a First Amendment right to refuse child placement into LGBTQ homes — even though the agency consented to a city contract prohibiting anti-LGBTQ discrimination.

The court listed the case, Fulton v. Philadelphia, on its order list Monday, which indicated the petition for certiorari filed by Catholic Social Services in July 2019 seeking review was granted. It takes a vote of four justices to issue a writ of certiorari — or agree to take up a case — but the vote for that decision isn’t public.

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