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Doors open for potential gay lawmakers in Tallahassee

BY MARC CAPUTO, MCAPUTO@MIAMIHERALD.COM

Miami Beach is buzzing that, for the first time in Florida history, an openly gay state legislator could win office and sit in the state House.

The promise of a first-ever gay lawmaker became a real possibility last week when Rep. Richard Steinberg resigned Friday amid a scandal involving inappropriate sex-text messages he sent to a female federal prosecutor.

At the same time, the Legislature has signed off on new legislative maps that rejigger the boundaries of Steinberg’s District 106, which has all of the gay “mecca” of Miami Beach, said C.J. Ortuño, executive director of SAVE Dade.

The new district is among the most liberal and Democratic in the state.

“We have never had the opportunity that this new district presents for the LGBT community,” said Ortuño, using the shorthand for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. “We are going to be contacting people in the community,” he said, “planting the seed and watch for a reaction.”

Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Gongora, who is openly gay, said he may run for Steinberg’s seat.

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