News release from SAVE Dade:
Miami-Dade, FL – Florida, the fourth most populous state in the union has yet to elect an openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) state legislator. The three states ahead of us, California, Texas, and New York, respectively, have had an openly LGBT representative serve in state elected office. Other, more traditionally conservative states, including Montana, North Carolina, Utah, and Wyoming, all have elected LGBT state legislators.
Florida is considered to have the fourth highest population of LGBT people, but gay and transgender people are still not represented in Florida’s state or federal politics. Florida’s redistricting process could change this if maps are drawn to make concentrated LGBT populations a community of interest.
“Florida’s legislative districts unfairly disadvantage LGBT people from being elected to state and federal office and we want to change that,” said CJ Ortuno, executive director of SAVE Dade. “We have an opportunity to right a wrong by ensuring the redistricting process fairly includes the number of LGBT communities around the state that are recognized by their residents as a community of common interests.”
The LGBT community comprises more than $743 billion in purchasing power nationally; Florida is a significant contributor to this total especially with LGBT tourism in and out of South Florida. Jacksonville, according to the 2010 Census, has one of the highest populations of gay parents with nearly 34% of gay people parenting. Some of Florida’s top business executives and corporate CEO’s in finance, insurance, and healthcare are openly gay and lesbian. Even though the numbers add up to show that more people who LGBT are making Florida their home, not a single one has made it past municipal or county politics.
“In this climate when gains are obviously being noticed and respected in the LGBT community, and with its supporters, the notion that we will not be properly represented is an injustice to us as a whole. In the effort of making every vote truly count and be representative of its community, I urge the creation fair districts that give voice to the LGBT community of South Florida,” said Harold E. Mathis, Jr., Vice Mayor for the Village of El Portal.
“Not many states have passed statewide legal protections without an openly gay or transgender person carrying the torch in the halls of state or federal government – we want to make sure that the LGBT community is given equal representation for their equal responsibility as productive citizens of our great state,” said Ortuno.