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Florida poised to elect first openly gay state lawmaker

By Jim Malewitz, –

With a narrow victory in Tuesday’s (August 14) primary, a Miami Beach accountant is set to become Florida’s first openly gay state legislator.

David Richardson edged out three other opponents in Democratic House primary, the Miami Herald reports. With no Republican challenger opposing him in November’s general election, that victory ensures him the seat.

“David represents the rich diversity that makes Florida great and we are pleased to welcome him to the state Legislature,” Rod Smith, Chairman of the Florida Democratic Party, said in a statement.

Florida, one of the 29 states without a law banning discrimination based upon gender or sexual orientation, had been the largest of 13 states that had never elected an openly gay lawmaker, Gay Politics reports.

Richardson’s win follows two other major victories this year for openly gay candidates at the state level. In May, Representative Mary Gonzalez, a Democrat, became Texas’ second out candidate elected to the state legislature and the only one currently serving. And in Oklahoma last February, Al McAffrey, a former state representative, won a special election to become the Oklahoma’s first openly gay senator.

Those wins come at a time when a record number of out candidates are running for office. In April, The Daily Beast reported that the nonpartisan Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund — the largest group training, recruiting and funding such candidates — had backed more than 100 candidates for state, local and national offices. That number was expected to double by November.

In 2010, according to the report, fund-backed candidates won 107 out of 164 races.

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