August 15, 2012 | by Michael K. Lavers
Florida voters elect first openly gay state legislator
Gay News, Washington Blade, Gay Florida

David Richardson (Photo courtesy of davidforflorida.com)

Voters on Tuesday elected a Miami Beach accountant as Florida’s first openly gay state legislator.

The Miami Herald reported that David Richardson, who will represent House District 113 in Tallahassee, defeated Mark Weithorn by a 33 to 27 percent margin. Adam Kravitz received 24 percent of the vote, while Waldo Faura garnered 16 percent. No Republicans entered the race.

“David’s election sends a message to Tallahassee that LGBT Floridians will be heard,” said Victory Fund President Chuck Wolfe, a former senior aide to the late Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles. “Finally, we will have an authentic LGBT voice in the state capitol who will be unafraid to speak up and speak out for fairness.”

Gay Orange County Democrat Joe Saunders will square off against Republican Marco Pena in November after he defeated Shayan Elahi. Key West Innskeepers President Ian Whitney could potentially join Saunders in Tallahassee if voters elect him to represent House District 120, which includes the Florida Keys and south Miami-Dade County, in November.

“This is an amazing and historic night,” Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida, a statewide LGBT advocacy organization, told the Blade. “The election of David Richardson finally breaks through the lavender ceiling. We hope to shatter it forever in November by electing Joe Saunders and Ian Whitney. We’ve waited so long we don’t just want a single voice in Tallahassee, we want a caucus.”

Gay Democrat John Paul Alvarez of Palm Bay in Brevard County will also square off against state Rep. John Tobia (R-Melbourne) in House District 53 in the general election.

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

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