And now for some good news out of the Sunshine State: Michele Rayner and Shervin Jones made LGBTQ history Tuesday by winning seats in the Florida state legislature.
Rayner—a self-described "unapologetic" queer woman—will become the first Black LGBTQ woman to serve in the state's house of representatives. The civil rights attorney won the Democratic primary with about 30 percent of the vote against three challengers. She did not face a Republican opponent in the general election, securing her spot as the representative of District 70. According to the Advocate, Rayner is also the founder and principal attorney of Civil Liberty Law, a counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
"I'm proud because this win represents a new day," Rayner said in a news release following her primary win. "We’ve run a campaign focused on putting people over politics and that’s rooted in a commitment to working with and for residents until the change they seek is a reality... This win proves that this community is ready tired of business as usual and ready for change, and I’m so grateful and humbled that the voters of District 70 have elected me to represent them in Tallahassee to move us closer to the change we all deserve."
Jones has become the first LGBTQ person ever elected to Florida's upper chamber, after winning Miami-Dade's 35th district. Like Rayner, Jones did not face a Republican opponent in the general, but managed to defeat Democratic challengers during the primary race, which was marred by attacks on his sexuality.
The 37-year-old has has served several terms in the state's House of Representatives since 2012, but did not come out as gay until 2018.
"I was a married man. My parents were conservative. My parents raised my brothers and me to be truthful and be honest. I knew I was gay back in kindergarten. I knew it," Jones told the Miami Herald two years ago. "I got married and my ex-wife — I love her. She’s amazing. She even lives in my district — she and I were friends for 10 years at school. When I married her I loved her then. But I loved her too much to continue to lie to her and lie to my family. I have to be honest."
Other LGBTQ candidates who secured victories on Election Day include Delaware's Sarah McBride, who will become the country's first openly trans state senator. Ritchie Torres, who is the first Afro-Latino LGBTQ person elected to U.S. congress after winning New York's 15th congressional district seat; Taylor Small, the first openly trans person elected to the Vermont State Legislature; Mondaire Jones, a gay Black man who won New York's 17th congressional district; Stephanie Byers, who is the first openly trans person elected to the Kansas Legislature; and Kim Jackson, a lesbian reverend who has been elected to the Georgia State Senate.