Metro Weekly

Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen to receive Congressional Ally Award from Victory Institute

Republican congresswoman from Florida, now retiring, has long been an advocate for LGBTQ rights

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen – Photo: U.S. Congress, via Wikimedia.

Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen will receive the inaugural Victory Congressional Ally Award at the LGBTQ Victory Institute’s Pride reception on Capitol Hill on Thursday, June 7.

Ros-Lehtinen, a 15-term Republican from Miami, has long been a supporter of the LGBTQ community, supporting nondiscrimination legislation throughout much of her career. She was the first Republican to co-sponsor the Respect for Marriage Act, which would have repealed the Defense of Marriage Act, in 2011, and the first Republican in the House to support same-sex marriage, less than a year later.

Ros-Lehtinen has been a member of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, and was a fervent opponent of the now-repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy for the U.S. military. She is also one of the few members of Congress with an LGBTQ-identifying child. Her son, Rodrigo, currently works as a transgender rights advocate for Freedom for All Americans.

Ros-Lehtinen announced last year that she would retire at the end of her current term, in January 2019. The race to replace her in Florida’s 27th Congressional District, where Hillary Clinton defeated Donald Trump in 2016, promises to be one of the most contested races in the nation.

Victory’s Pride reception will be held in the Rayburn House Office Building, in conjunction with Pride celebrations for the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, GLASS and the LGBT Congressional Staff Association. In addition to honoring Ros-Lehtinen as she wraps up her final term in office, the reception will feature remarks from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), and Victory Institute President and CEO Annise Parker, as well as other members of the LGBT Equality Caucus.

“Representative Ros-Lehtinen is not just a politician — she is a leader,” Parker said in a statement. “When few voices on Capitol Hill were supportive of marriage equality, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen became the first Republican member of Congress to publicly support it. She was championing equality for trans people when most members either opposed it or avoided talking about it. And she is a symbol of the direction we hope our politics moves — away from equality being a partisan issue and instead a value and goal all our elected leaders share.”

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