Seven out LGBTQ+ candidates have won their primaries for Florida state House and Senate seats.
Incumbent Representatives Michele Rayner (one of GO’s Women We Love, 2022) and Carlos Guillermo Smith won their bids to maintain their seats in Tuesday’s elections, as did Senator Shevrin Jones, the first out person to serve in the Florida Senate. Four other LGBTQ+ candidates who are challenging incumbents also won their primaries: Adam Gentle and Gabriel Gonzalez, who are both looking to capture House seats, and Eunic Ortiz and Janelle Perez, who are running for Senate.
The victories of the LGBTQ+ candidates come only months after Florida passed a restrictive “Don’t Say Gay” bill that limits LGBTQ+ content in school classrooms. The bill has sparked backlash from LGBTQ+ and human rights groups, and has inspired similar legislation in other states controlled by conservative legislatures.
“There is no coincidence that in a year LGBTQ+ Floridians are under attack, five openly LGBTQ+ candidates are running across the state to fight for our community,” wrote Ortiz — who, along with Perez, could become the first out woman or women in the Florida Senate — in a tweet following her win (she did not refer to Gentle or Gonzalez in her message).
There is no coincidence that in a year LGBTQ+ Floridians are under attack, five openly LGBTQ+ candidates are running across the state to fight for our community.
— Eunic Ortiz (@eunicortiz) August 24, 2022
“We need to be proactively electing folks that create diversity so we have laws that protect us all,” said Gentle, as reported by The Hill.
“We were creating places for people to be their authentic selves, we were allowing kids to bring their full selves to school,” he added. “I think what’s most frustrating about what we see happening today is that feeling of going backwards when so much progress has been made.”