All in for Gillum: Equality Florida and PBCHRC Come Out Swinging in Governor’s Race

Andrew Gillum / courtesy

Andrew Gillum is Florida’s first black nominee for governor, and local LGBT groups have lined up behind the young charismatic Bernie Sanders backed progressive. 

“During his fifteen years in public office, Andrew Gillum has been successful in ensuring that LGBTQ employees of the City of Tallahassee -- and the LGBTQ citizens of Tallahassee -- have the same rights, protections and benefits as their non-LGBTQ counterparts,” Palm Beach County Human Rights Council wrote in an email. “As a City Commissioner, Gillum led the charge to expand domestic partner benefits for City employees. As Mayor, when more than a dozen counties were refusing to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Florida, Gillum raised his voice in opposition to their bigotry.  He promptly extended an invitation for couples from around the state to come to Tallahassee and get married in his city.”

Despite Gillum’s long shot bid for the state’s highest office, PBCHRC endorsed him in the primary when the then-candidate was still polling in single digits. 

“Gillum also assured us that, on his first day as Governor, he would issue an Executive Order prohibiting discrimination in state employment and contracting based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression,” the PBCHRC email continues. 

Michael Rajner, the LGBTQ representative for the Democratic Party in Broward County, had the chance to speak to Gillum a few months ago and was impressed with his knowledge of the issues facing the LGBT community. 

“I had a chance to chat with Mayor Andrew Gillum on Florida's archaic HIV-criminalization statute, I was immediately impressed with his in-depth knowledge of the issue.  It was a powerful example for Gillum to demonstrate his understanding of issues that the LGBTQ community often struggle to engage candidates and elected officials,” Rajner said. “Having Mayor Gillum elected as Florida's next governor would finally give us the champion we have long sought to fight for LGBTQ-equality.”

As soon as Gillum was the nominee, Equality Florida, the state’s largest LGBT rights group, quickly fell into line, announcing a major effort to boost his chances of success including a statewide fundraising tour and “massive campaign.” According to the email the group plans to mobilize 1.3 million pro-equality voters focusing on motivating the nearly 500,000 voters who rarely vote in midterms. 

“Andrew Gillum has been a consistent champion for LGBTQ equality, and Floridians will see the stark contrast between his record on equality and his opponent who has embraced the anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and policies of the Trump-Pence administration,” said Stratton Pollitzer, chair of the Equality Florida Action PAC, in a prepared statement. “Mayor Gillum has committed to advancing Florida as a leader for LGBTQ equality in the South, making the state a welcome place for everyone to live, work, and visit. He is the equality champion who can energize voters and win the Governor’s Mansion.” 

Here are some other pro-Equality stances of Gillum’s according to PBCHRC: 

  • Will urge the Florida Legislature to amend the Florida Civil Rights Act and Florida's Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. 
  • Will issue an Executive Order prohibiting discrimination in state employment and contracting based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

“He represents the wants and needs of the majority of Floridians. He has fiercely advocated for the LGBTQ community long before it was popular or considered the right thing to do,” said Daniel Sohn, Haverhill Council member. “I hope youll join me to ensure Andrew is the next Governor of Florida.”

Both groups blasted Gillum’s Republican challenger Ron DeSantis. 

“In sharp contrast, during his six years in public office, Ron DeSantis has done nothing to improve the lives of LGBTQ Floridians. In fact, he has yet to speak out in favor of a single one of our issues,” noted PBCHRC. “As a Congressman, [he] opposed marriage equality. He also supported the First Amendment Defense Act, which, if enacted, would have undermined core civil rights protections for LGBTQ people.”

While Pollitzer added: “DeSantis is out of touch with the values of everyday Floridians, 70% of whom support nondiscrimination protections for the LGBTQ community.” 

Equality Florida also noted: “DeSantis ranks dead last on the Human Rights Campaign’s most recent Congressional Scorecard measuring support for LGBTQ equality.” 

Lastly PBCHRC had this to say: “The choice for the LGBTQ community could not be more clear.  We all must do whatever we can to elect Andrew Gillum as Florida's next Governor.”

Rajner has a suggestion on how to make that happen.

“To get Andrew Gillum elected as Florida's governor, we need all hands on deck to volunteer and help make calls and register voters,” he said. “Anyone interested can contact the Broward Democratic Party at 954-423-2200 to volunteer to help get out the vote this November.”