Gay Florida Legislators: Joe Saunders & David Richardson
On Tuesday, November 20 (2012), Florida representatives Joe Saunders and David Richardson became the first openly gay members to be sworn into Florida’s state legislature. Richardson represents District 113 (Miami) and Saunders District 49 (Orlando). You should not be shocked to learn that both are Democrats.
Saunders and Richardson took their oaths with more than 50 state legislators in Tallahassee. Until now, Florida was the largest state in the union to have never elected an openly gay candidate to its state legislature. Richardson, a CPA and former auditor for the U.S. Department of Defense, had never before run for public office.
29-year-old Saunders was accompanied in the legislative chambers by his partner, Donald Rupe (on right in photo, below). "Standing there with him was a dream realized and a memory I'll have for the rest of my life," Saunders told the Orlando Sentinel.
Michael Kenny, Executive Director of Florida Together, a statewide LGBT advocacy coalition commented yesterday, "For the first time in the history of our state, we have openly gay State House Representatives. David Richardson will not only be representing the residents of State House District 113 in Miami Dade County - he will be a voice for all of Florida's LGBT residents, (and) congratulations to Joe Saunders on his victory as State Representative in District 49. There is no doubt that the people of Florida will be well served by Joe Saunders being in the legislature."
"Before you can participate in the conversation, change hearts and minds, and impact policy, you must first have a seat at the table. Until today, LGBT Floridians were shouting from the spectators section."
The gentlemen's new workplace, Florida's statehouse in Tallahassee: