LGBT Floridians Get Representation with First Gay Legislators
The Florida House of Representatives just got a little gay. On Nov. 20, Representatives Joe Saunders and David Richardson became the first openly gay members to be sworn to the state’s legislature.
Sounders was elected to represent Florida’s District 49, while Richardson, who ran unopposed, gained the seat for District 113, which covers all of Miami Beach (per recent redistricting, the city is wholly in one district for the first time), a bit of South Beach, a bit of Downtown Miami, and a bit of Little Havana.
During the swearing-in ceremony Saunders was accompanied by his partner, artist and teacher Donald Rupe.
"Standing there with him was a dream realized and a memory I’ll have for the rest of my life," Saunders told the Orlando Sentinel.
For his part, Richardson said he’s a "realist" when it comes to the LGBT population he’ll be serving.
"I feel strongly about equality. We have to get there by taking small steps. But my experience has shown me that we never make true progress until we sit at the table," he told SFGN in a previous interview.
"You can be fired in Florida for being gay. I think that’s one of the first things that needs to be changed." He added that he wouldn’t be spending all of his time working on LGBT issues, that there’s education and taxing and environmental issues to worry about too, but that he "won’t be afraid to bring it up."