For the past several months, I have been deeply involved in a major undertaking and vowed not to get heavily involved in this year's election. But as the campaign cycle progressed, it became very clear I needed to find a way to enlist in the ranks of amazing advocates and find my place on the battle line to hold our ground and help our community be led to victory.
So over the last several months, I did what I could to encourage LGBT Floridians to register to vote and become involved in a campaign that shared their values and vision for a better and more inclusive society. In South Florida, there were two major election victories that were very personal for me.
The first victory was in Florida Senate District 34 where incumbent State Senators Maria Sachs (Democrat) and Ellyn Bogdanoff (Republican) fought in an ugly and costly battle as a result of redistricting. Sachs has continually been a genuine champion for the equality of all people and she defeated her opponent - who lacked the spine to advocate for the rights of her gay child - winning 52% of the vote. As a gay man and a former Republican, it only affirmed why I chose to leave a political party and its leadership who continually placed equality for LGBT people on the alter as a sacrificial lamb so they can hold their grasp on power.
Given Bogdanoff's anti-gay record on LGBT equality in the Florida state legislature, this past Saturday at a rally in Wilton Manors, I publicly questioned if in 2012 if blacks did not have the right to vote, would Bogdanoff be a vocal advocate to fight for her adopted African American daughter's right to vote?
Given the clear parallel for her to fight for her gay son's equality, I thought it to be a fair question.
The other race that was personal to me was another costly and ugly battle, but for Florida's 18th Congressional District this time. When the Republican super majority in the Florida state legislature turned on incumbent Tea Party extremist Allen West, it became clear to West his own state party despised him and set him up for failure.
West tucked his tail and ran for a congressional district he thought to be more favorable to him. A young, energetic pro-equality Patrick Murphy was determined to chase a cowardly homophobic West and switched races - eventually making West a one term member of Congress.
A little more than 2 years ago when Allen West was on his second attempt to to be elected to represent Florida's 22nd Congressional District, I ran into him at a Panera Bread in Fort Lauderdale. We sat down and respectfully dialogued on issues important to LGBT people that included marriage equality, the repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell," and funding for science-based HIV/AIDS policy. It was the one and only time I sat down with West alone to discuss issues. Shortly after, West decided to act on his homophobia (and realized his campaign could financially benefit from his hate speech) so he cashed in and showed the world what a bigot looks like.
Throughout Allen West's one term in office, he continually polluted the airwaves with hate filled manure with statements such as blacks and LGBT people aren't discriminated in the workplace, gays will destroy the military, and comparing marriage to choosing a flavor of ice cream.
West's endless attack on LGBT people fuel my fire last summer to silence an ignorant ass. Last July, I proposed a controversial boycott of members of the Wilton Manors Business Association if they didn't withdraw their invitation for Allen West to speak in our fair-minded city. To this day I don't regret the decision and proudly wear it as a badge of honor for being the homosexual that silenced the anti-gay Tea Party extremist.
I'm now filled with excitement that a young Patrick Murphy had the courage to stand up to Allen West and defeat him in the race for Florida's 18th Congressional District.
Maria and Patrick, I know you will both be a strong voice of leadership for all people! I can't wait to work with you both.
(You're fired graphic via Bigstock)