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Florida just got its first LGBTQ+ Latino state senator

Author: Jacob Ogles

LGBTQ+ advocate Carlos Guillermo Smith just became the first out Latino to join the Florida state Senate.

“My heart is full of gratitude for this community who has entrusted me with the responsibility of serving as their state senator,” Smith said.

The Orlando Democrat filed for an open seat last year. When Florida’s qualification deadline for state candidates passed at noon on June 14, he remained the only candidate filed for Florida Senate District 17. That means he will take office on Nov. 6 following this year’s general election.

“I love the Orlando community, and promise to defend our values, to put people over politics, and to inspire hope for a better, brighter future for a state. A future where families aren’t forced out of their homes or out onto the streets due to soaring rents and property insurance rates; where teachers can earn a living salary; where every student is protected and every family is respected; where people living with disabilities get the services they deserve to live and work in their communities; where families can live safe from gun violence; where Floridians can love who they want to love or be their authentic selves without harassment and intimidation; and where Floridians have the freedom to make private medical decisions without political interference,” Smith said.

“That’s the Florida we deserve and that we are fighting for.”

Smith ran on a number of kitchen table and economic issues, but in a statement on his victory acknowledged the historic nature of his victory.

“It’s also important to acknowledge and celebrate the significance of our election for Florida’s LGBTQ community, who have been relentlessly attacked and demonized by the majority party in this Legislature over the past few years.” Smith said.

Smith will be only the second out state senator in Florida history. He will share the 40-member chair now with Florida Sen. Shevrin Jones, who in 2020 became the first gay man elected to the chamber.

“I am thrilled that the Florida Senate LGBTQ caucus is no longer a membership of one,” said Jones, a Miami area Democrat. “What excites me even more is that Carlos is more than a member of the LGBTQ community; he is a true champion for the people of Florida and his district. In today’s world, merely having a seat at the table should not suffice as a symbolic gesture. We need individuals who are not only willing to sit at the table but also prepared to overturn it when the well-being of Floridians is endangered by extremists. Carlos is the perfect advocate for this cause, and I am ecstatic about his presence.”

Smith’s run seems all the more remarkable given that just two years ago, he lost re-election to the Florida House in a Florida red wave. The LGBTQ lawmaker’s defeat was seen at the time as the biggest legislative win by Florida Republicans, and his defeat took place the same night Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis won a landslide election on an agenda steeped in anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and policies. But less than two years later, DeSantis has gone from prominent warrior to failed presidential candidate, and state Republicans failed to field a candidate in 22 legislative districts.

“The tide is turning in Florida, DeSantis’ extreme anti-LGBTQ agenda is crumbling in the courts, and LGBTQ Democratic representation in Tallahassee will only continue to increase,” Smith said. “Happy Pride!”

Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Jacob Ogles

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