Florida lawmakers took their oath of office on Tuesday in Tallahassee.
Among the governing body are three from the LGBT community: Sen. Shevrin Jones and Reps. Michele Rayner and Carlos Guillermo Smith. All three are Democrats whose service is groundbreaking.
Jones becomes Florida’s first Black gay Senator, serving in District 35, which covers portions of southern Broward and northern Miami-Dade Counties. Borrowing a line from Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Jones tweeted “I’m the first, but won’t be the last. #WEthePEOPLE”
Rayner is the first Black queer woman elected to the legislature. She represents House District 70, which covers southern St. Petersburg and parts of Hillsborough, Manatee and Sarasota Counties.
“Service is the rent you pay for room on this earth,” Rayner tweeted, quoting Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to Congress.
Smith, the state’s first LGBT Latinx legislator, was re-elected to his third term in House District 49, which covers parts of Orange County. A vocal advocate for progressive causes, Smith wasted no time in holding Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ feet to the fire on unemployment benefits and coronavirus relief.
“Not one mention of our broken unemployment system or the millions pushed into poverty due to COVID ... or the 1 in 5 FL small biz closed with no state relief or the 17,500+ Floridians dead from the virus,” Smith tweeted. “GOP leaders keep pretending this didn’t happen when they took the year off.”
Florida Republicans hold a 24 to 16 advantage in the Senate and 78 to 42 advantage in the House. The GOP controls all executive branch offices sans the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.