Gay Candidate Wins Where Anita Bryant Once Roamed

By Julie Bolcer

Originally published on Advocate.com August 15 2012 11:17 AM ET

 

Voters in Miami Beach made history Tuesday when they elected David Richardson to the Florida House, giving the state its first openly gay lawmaker.

Richardson won his four-way Democratic primary by 33% to 27% over his closest rival, according to the Miami Herald. He faces no Republican opponent in the general election, all but assuring his victory in November.

The Miami Beach district Richardson will represent was once home to antigay activist Anita Bryant. A former beauty pageant winner, her name became synonymous with antigay activism in 1977, when she launched a campaign to repeal a nondiscrimination ordinance with protections for sexual orientation in Miami Dade County.

Richardson’s election marks a major turning point for Florida, according to the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, which endorsed him. The state had been the largest to have never elected an out state lawmaker, and it is among the largest states without significant nondiscrimination laws for LGBT people.

“David’s election sends a message to Tallahassee that LGBT Floridians will be heard.  Finally, we will have an authentic LGBT voice in the state capitol who will be unafraid to speak up and speak out for fairness,” said Chuck Wolfe, Victory Fund president and CEO, who served as a top aide to the late Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles.

Three other out candidates won their primaries, and could join Richardson in the state legislature, pending the outcome of their general election contests, according to Equality Florida. The primary winners were Joe Saunders, Ian Whitney, and John Alvarez.