Todd Delmay is a new type of candidate the State of Florida has yet to see.
While voters have elected a handful of openly LGBT politicians, Delmay would be the first married gay man and parent elected to the Florida legislature. This month Delmay announced his candidacy for Florida House District 100.
“It’s time we speak up boldly and passionately for our progressive values,” said Delmay.
Delmay believes he is uniquely situated for this moment, having fought and won in the public arena for marriage and adoption rights.
“We had to put our life out there and on trial to get what we really deserve and everyone in our community deserves,” Delmay said.
Todd and his husband Jeff were the first gay men married in Florida. They were married in Miami in 2015 and shortly after attended former President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address as guests of Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
The Delmays have an 11-year-old son, Blake, who they adopted from Jeff’s second cousin in 2010. At that time, Jeff was the only parent listed because Florida banned same-sex adoptions. Todd recalled having to pose alongside Jeff as “friends” during court adoption proceedings.
“This whole charade that we were putting on was this necessity to accommodate an unjust law,” Delmay said. “I’m more offended by it today than I was back then. You’ll do anything for your kid, but how blatantly offensive and gross that was.”
The Delmays created a storybook for Blake about their family and how he came to be. Educating and supporting future generations is a way of life for Todd, who serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for Pridelines, a South Florida LGBT youth organization.
“When you think about LGBTQ families in general there are still things where we are not treated the same,” Delmay said. “We still run into these instances where you fill out a school form and it says ‘mom’ and ‘dad.’”
Getting Florida’s public schools open following the coronavirus pandemic and free from harmful restrictions such as the trans youth sports ban is a campaign priority.
“This session has proved more than ever that it's important that we have voices that are pushing back aggressively and strongly,” Delmay said.
The race for the District 100 seat is wide open. Delmay is one of three Democratic candidates who have publicly announced. Representative Joe Geller is term-limited. The coastal district straddles the Broward-Miami Dade County line where sea level rise is an issue that Delmay has studied during his tenure on the Hollywood sustainability advisory committee.
Delmay describes the Hollywood area as a bridge between the LGBT communities in Fort Lauderdale and Miami with a lot to offer. As a business owner, he knows the importance of striking a balance between residents’ concerns and tourism dollars.
“My background is in tourism,” Delmay said. “Tourism is an important part of Florida’s economy. There are ways in which tourism touches every square inch of the district and we have to think about how we can welcome visitors and keep in mind there are people who live here year-round.”
“Todd is focused,” said Jeff Oliverio, a close friend and fellow gay parent. “He’s got his eyes on it and I feel confident. He’s a natural leader who is as compassionate as he is smart.”
Oliverio, the father of a 13-year-old son, said times are changing and with more and more LGBT parents comes increased demand for quality schools.
Last summer Hollywood raised the progress pride flag outside city hall. The flag recognizes the Black, Brown and transgender communities and Delmay is hoping Hallandale Beach and Dania Beach will follow suit. Delmay notes Hollywood has made steady gains on the Human Rights Campaign’s municipal equality index scorecard, rising from a 49 to its current score of 83.
Those gains, Delmay said, were the result of putting in the time to have conversations with city officials who were receptive to changing course.
“Hollywood’s image is evolving and it took having those conversations with the city in places where we didn’t think we needed to have it,” Delmay said. “You need to be in the room. Having an LGBTQ person in the room changes the conversation.”