A Florida Democrat has become the first openly gay state senator to be elected in the Sunshine State.
State Rep. Shevrin Jones (D-West Park) won an open State Senate seat in South Florida after a contested primary that he won in August. He is expected to be one of only two out LGBTQ Black men serving in state senates in the United States, along with Jabari Brisport, who was running for state senate in New York. Brisport’s race had not yet been called as of press time.
Jones made headlines when he ran afoul of Food & Drug Administration guidelines for donating blood and plasma. Because he had not been abstinent for three months, Jones was turned away from donating plasma, even though he had previously tested positive for COVID-19 and the antibodies in his plasma could have been helpful to treating other patients.
Shortly after Jones’s story went viral, voters in Jones’ district began receiving anti-gay robotexts saying: “The Miami Herald reported that Shevrin Jones was discriminated against for recent homosexual contact,” and directed people to a fake website. But there was a backlash: Jones ended up winning his primary handily.
The LGBTQ Victory Fund, which had backed Jones, celebrated his victory.
“Shevrin shattered a long-standing political barrier for LGBTQ candidates in Florida and his victory will resonate far beyond the boundaries of his state,” Annise Parker, president and CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund, said in a statement.
“Shevrin will be one of just two Black gay men serving in state senates and his victory is certain to inspire more Black LGBTQ leaders to step up and run themselves. The politics of division and hatred failed in this race and gave way to a government that is more representative of the people it serves.”
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