Meet the LGBT Candidates of 2016: Orlando's Beth Tuura

Tuura

The presidential election has been an exhausting, soul-crushing experience for the entire nation. While it's nearly over, the next week promises more stomach-churning twists and turns than Space Mountain. Fear not, there is election news that doesn't involve Donald Trump or emails — numerous LGBT candidates are vying for public office, hoping to change politics from within. Until Election Day on November 8, we'll profile several of these candidates, with information provided by the Victory Fund, which works to elect LGBT mayors, senators, governors, and maybe, one day, a president. Let's get started:

Beth Tuura, Democrat
Running for Florida's House of Representatives

Emmy-winning TV producer Beth Tuura of Orlando has supporters in high places: She’s been endorsed by President Obama, and her race is considered an “essential” one by the national Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee.

“I am deeply honored to be endorsed by President Obama,” Tuura, seeking a seat in Florida's state House of Representatives, said in a statement issued after receiving the endorsement in October. “Our campaign has earned the president’s support because we share the same values of fighting to protect our environment, for women, and for equal rights. I’m so proud to have his support in this opportunity to represent the people of my district and our state.”

Tuura, a lesbian, is one of five LGBT candidates running for Florida’s House, and if all five, including the lone incumbent, win, it will quintuple the number of LGBT House members. She won a three-way primary in House District 47 in August, and she will face Republican incumbent Mike Miller November 8. Orlando’s Pulse nightclub is located in the district.

Miller is something of a moderate — in July he signed a resolution in support of banning anti-LGBT discrimination in Florida; such protections are not currently written into state law. But Victory Fund, which has endorsed Tuura, notes that out lawmakers can play a special role in advocating for LGBT equality — and stopping anti-equality legislation. “As a fighter for both LGBTQ+ and women’s rights, I will stand up for equality and be an ally in Tallahassee,” Tuura says on her campaign website.

After the Pulse shooting, Miller voted in favor of holding a special session of the legislature to study additional gun control measures; the session did not happen, as not enough legislators voted for it. For her part, Tuura is a strong proponent of gun control, saying on her website, “I will fight to ban assault rifles, expand background checks, and supporting no fly-no buy.” She said she will fight efforts to defund Planned Parenthood and to promote fracking, an oil and gas exploration method that can cause environmental damage. Married to a teacher in the public schools, she is also a staunch advocate of public education.

A native of Seattle, Miller moved to Orlando in 1994. She started in broadcasting as a camera operator; her first boss told her he didn’t believe women could succeed in the field. She has gone on to win three Emmys and has covered events including the Olympics, the Kentucky Derby, and the Super Bowl. After establishing herself in Orlando, she worked for Turner Entertainment in Atlanta for several years, then in 2000 returned to Orlando, where she now freelances.

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