Alex Penelas receives strong support from Miami’s LGBTQ community

Alex Penelas
Penelas led efforts to create and preserve LGBTQ protections.

Former Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas received a strong showing of support from the LGBTQ community on Thursday in his bid for reelection to his old office.

Penelas, who served as Miami-Dade County mayor from 1996 to 2004, was endorsed by a group of 10 Miami-Dade LGBTQ leaders who believe he is an advocate for human rights.

The endorsements came from North Miami City Councilman Scott Galvin, Miami-Dade Community Councilman-elect Marco Giron, author Christian de la Huerta, political strategist Jorge Mursuli, award-winning filmmakers Yvette Larralde and Susanna Taddei, civic engagement leader Damian Pardo and LGBTQ leaders Steve Adkins, Francesco Duberli and Alexis “Marytrini” Fernandez.

“The LGBTQ community is a very intersectional community and as such faces a variety of challenges including homelessness, domestic abuse and systemic discrimination, all of which Alex recognized and addressed during his tenure as mayor,” Pardo said. “We are facing many more challenges in Miami-Dade County today and I believe Alex has the proven vision, leadership and skill to help us work together and move us forward on these critical community issues.”

Penelas, who has previously served as a Miami-Dade Commissioner and Hialeah Council member, supported and signed the Human Rights amendment that eliminated and prevented discrimination based on sexual orientation, race and religion during his mayoral tenure.

In 2002 he rallied in support for the amendment and led the “No To Discrimination” Committee that ultimately fought back an attempt to repeal the ban. The American Civil Liberties Union celebrated both the amendment and the battle to preserve it in 2002.

“As the son of Cuban exiles who fled an oppressive regime, I feel a deep and personal responsibility to advancing and securing human rights, social justice and economic opportunity for everyone in our community, regardless of their race, age, religion, sex, gender identity or sexual orientation,” Penelas said. “Being able to raise awareness around the struggles of the LGBTQ community in Miami-Dade and ensure their safety and ability to survive and thrive in the community has been one of my proudest accomplishments and I feel humbled to be receiving the support of the very people who continue to lead us in that fight today.”

There are seven candidates vying to replace current Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who is facing term limits. Miami-Dade county commissioners Esteban Bovo, Xavier Suarez and Daniella Levine Cava, trucking firm owner Carlos Antonio de Armas, entrepreneur Monique Nicole Barley and real estate agent Ludmilla Domond are also in the field.

The mayoral race has grown heated in recent weeks. Voting will take place alongside Florida’s primary elections on Aug. 18. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote, a likelihood considering the crowded field, a runoff between the top two candidates will be held during the Nov. 3 general election.

Penelas was publicly tested every year during his tenure on the County Commission as a way of de-stigmatizing HIV and AIDS and securing increased funding for AIDS research. Adkins, like other members of the community, remembers that well and lauds Penelas for his leadership.

“Miami-Dade is a mecca of the LGBTQ community, not only for its beaches, but for its welcoming nature and inclusiveness,” Adkins said. “Much of this is due to the groundwork that Alex did to secure the Human Rights Ordinance and to de-stigmatize HIV/AIDS in the LGBTQ community through healthcare, education, prevention and awareness, at a time when there was much fear and opposition. Today, the LGBTQ community serves as an incredible economic engine for Miami-Dade County and is a safe place for us to live and visit as a result of his leadership.”

“Given the economic uncertainties and the threats our community is facing now, I can’t think of a better leader to take the helm and make us stronger.”

Spencer Fordin

Spencer Fordin grew up in Port Washington, N.Y. and holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Florida. Before working for, he spent 16 seasons with and nearly three years as a general assignment reporter in the Cayman Islands. You can reach Spencer at [email protected].


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704