Seventeen states currently have no openly lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender legislators, according to BuzzFeed.
Florida's days on that list are numbered: Democrat David Richardson squeaked past three other challengers in an open primary Tuesday night to take Florida House District 113 -- and become the Sunshine State's first openly gay legislator.
"It was an incredibly humbling experience," Richardson told HuffPost, noting that he was also able to garner significant support from Hispanic and Jewish communities as well as Republicans and Independents. "We're at a time and place in history when we don't need surrogates anymore, we can speak for ourselves and people are just going to look at our qualifications and nothing else."
“David’s election sends a message to Tallahassee that LGBT Floridians will be heard," said Victory Fund president CEO Chuck Wolfe, who also blogs for HuffPost. "Finally, we will have an authentic LGBT voice in the state capitol who will be unafraid to speak up and speak out for fairness."
Without a Republican registered for the race, the 55-year-old bilingual CPA and small business owner is guaranteed his spot in Tallahassee representing parts of Miami Beach, Downtown Miami, and Little Havana. Richardson's 33 percent of the vote bested JDate founder Adam Kravitz, Mark Weithorn, the husband of Miami Beach Commissioner Dedee Weithorn, and insurance adjuster Waldo Faura, Jr.
At least two other openly gay candidates have a shot at winning their own districts and joining Richardson in Tallahassee: Joe Saunders won the Democratic primary in Orlando's District 49, and Ian Whitley was unopposed in the Democratic primary for South Florida's District 120. Both will face off against Republican opponents in November.
“This is an amazing and historic night,” Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida and HuffPost blogger, told the Washington Blade on Tuesday. “The election of David Richardson finally breaks through the lavender ceiling. We hope to shatter it forever in November by electing Joe Saunders and Ian Whitney. We’ve waited so long we don’t just want a single voice in Tallahassee, we want a caucus.”
According to the Blade, Palm Bay's openly gay John Paul Alvarez will also be facing off against a Republican opponent for House District 53.
Richardson, a longtime Miami Beach resident who had never before run for office, ran a campaign touting his past work as a Pentagon auditor "identifying fraud and waste in government contracts." He earned an MBA at night while working for the Department of Defense, became a CPA, and eventually opened up his own small business advising clients on accounting and finance issues related to government contracts.
"He wants to go to Tallahassee and identify waste in the State budget, so funds can be better used to improve our schools, preserve our environment, and improve health care," according to his bio. First, however, Richardson had to log thousands of phone calls and 15,092 attempted door knocks.
"The thing I'm most proud of is that of all the doors we knocked on, not one person closed their doors on me because I was gay," he told HuffPost. "Not one person even brought it up. It's phenomenal. That gives me great joy, that I asked people to look at my record and that's what they did."
PHOTOS: Images of LGBT history from South Florida's Stonewall National Museum & Archives:
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