Wednesday, August 15, 2012
We Are the Change We Want and Need
Last night, voters in the Miami Beach area known as House District 113 elected David Richardson, an openly gay man, to the state legislature making him the first "out" queer person to be a state representative. First gay person. No. There have been others, but they were so deeply-closeted that it was tough to find them behind the brooms and the mops.
And Dave Richardson was just one of the openly-gay candidates who did well in yesterday's primary. In Orlando, Joe Saunders, who has been a field coordinator and activist for Equality Florida, won his Democratic primary handily. With any luck, he can win House District 49. And down in Key West, there is another candidate, Ian Whitney, running in House District 120. So, the possibility exists that we could have an actual Lavender Caucus in the Florida House of Representatives. Wow!
This from the state that gave us the Charlie Johns committee in the 1950s and early 60s that went on a witch hunt for gays and lesbians in state government and the state universities. A state who, in the 1970s, launched the anti-gay crusading career of Anita Bryant, and only four years ago, passed an amendment to our constitution banning "marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof" for LGBT people. The archaic law that prevented LGBT people from being adoptive parents only fell a couple years ago. And this state still has no statewide anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBT people from being fired or denied housing due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
But still, last night, an openly gay man was elected to the state House of Representatives. I am over the moon.
I told people after that extremely painful vote in 2008 that denied marriage equality that it was time for the LGBT community to recruit candidates to run for political office. Then, and only then, would we be in a place to stop madness that allowed straight voters to curb our right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. We needed to stop legislation that damned us to second-class citizenry and we needed to have LGBT people in place to help us achieve equality in state law. Basically, we needed to be the change we wanted and needed for Florida. After last night, I am beginning to feel that we have that change coming.
Injustice simply can't stand forever. Not even in Florida.
Hearty congratulations to Dave Richardson, and best of luck to Joe Saunders and Ian Whitney. Sure would be nice to paint this town lavender!