The LGBT+ Center Orlando has awarded state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith with its 2018 Champion for Equality Award and Orlando Police Chief John Mina with its “LGBT Ally Award.

The awards came Wednesday morning as The Center hosted its 6th Annual Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast and Awards, celebrating individuals in the Orlando community “who have gone above and beyond to stand with or further the cause of the LGBT community,” said spokesman Terry DeCarlo.

Smith’s award was given for his “relentless and unapologetic advocacy on behalf of the LGBTQ community,” according to a release he issued Wednesday. Smith is an openly-gay state representative serving Florida House District 49, covering a portion of northeast Orange County. He is running for re-election but does not yet have an opponent.

“I am extremely humbled to be recognized by an organization that has done incredible work in our community. During our darkest moments, The Center served as a hub for rapid response, inclusion, and compassion,” Smith stated in a news release. “I remain committed to my role as an advocate for the LGBTQ community, fighting for nondiscrimination policies, passing common sense gun control, and helping to eradicate the HIV epidemic once and for all. I’m proud to partner with The Center on this critical work.”

Mina is running for Orange County sheriff, against retired Florida Highway Patrol Chief Joe LopezEric McIntyre, and Darryl Sheppard.

Also recognized Wednesday were Blue Star, whom the Orlando Sentinel once dubbed “Central Florida’s Mother of Burlesque,” was honored with The Center’s LGBT Trail Blazer award; and Sam Singhaus, also known as “Miss Sammy,” who received The Center’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Last year the awards went to Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, lawyer Mary Meeks, Orlando Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell, and Orlando Police Lt. Jim Young.


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