David Richardson has become the first openly gay legislator of Florida. The 55-year-old forensic accountant said he was comfortable having made Florida history on election night.
“I am the first openly gay legislator of Florida – and forever will be,” he said, having defeated on Tuesday three other candidates to represent state House District 113 in Miami Beach.
Mr Richardson, a native of Orlando and the son of a cab driver and factory worker, gained biology and accounting undergraduate degrees at the University of Central Florida and a Masters in Business Administration at the University of Tampa.
A former Pentagon auditor, his work brought him to Miami Beach in 1995 and he became a permanent resident in 2001.
He said: “I often thought about getting involved in state government or helping [in] some way. I decided this race would go to a newcomer and it was possible for me with my background to win. I’m a completely American dream story.”
According to the Miami Herald, Denis Dison, spokesman for the national Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, one of several gay-rights groups that supported Richardson, said that until this election season, Florida was one of 17 states “with zero out state lawmakers”.
Other groups who invested in the Richardson campaign include Equality Florida, Florida Together and SAVE Dade, the county’s largest LGBT rights group, who invested about $50,000.
Mr Richardson’s fellow out gay lawmakers in the state include Democrats Ian Whitney (Key West), Joe Saunders (Orlando) and John Alvarez (Brevard County). Republican Scott Herman of Wilton Manors will also be on the ballot in the general elections come November.
“I’m very hopeful that there will be an LGBT caucus,” said Mr Richardson. His key political priorities will be schools, the state budget and passing state employment protections for LGBT people.
He said: “One of the first things that I would like to put on the table: Most people don’t realize that in Florida you can be fired from a job for being a gay person. I find that unconscionable. I’m going to be talking about that.”