Gay Florida Reps Saunders, Richardson Start Their Terms

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Joe Saunders and David Richardson

Joe Saunders and David Richardson, the first openly gay politicians to be elected to Florida’s state legislature, have started working after being appointed to subcommittees.

Saunders, D-Orlando, is working on an education subcommittee, while Richardson, D-Miami Beach, is taking part in two House appropriations subcommittees and the Finance and Taxation Subcommittee, according to the Palm Beach Post.

Both politicians told the Post that while their sexuality is part of who they are, it won’t be the focus of their political careers.

“I’ve done work on civil rights for a long time,” Saunders told the Post. “But in the campaign, my focus was mostly on jobs, education and fairness and opportunity.”

Richardson said referring to his sexuality: “I don’t know what that means from a policy perspective. But at a minimum, I think it’s challenging people’s assumptions.”

John Stemberger, head of the Florida Family Policy Council and one of the main pushers behind the 2006 ban on gay marriage in the state, said Saunders and Richardson’s sexuality are none of his concern “but the danger would be if they try to promote the homosexual agenda in Florida.”

Victory Fund Spokesman Dennis Dison said that after Florida’s new gay representatives, only 14 states don’t have any openly gay legislators.

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