LGBTQ leaders from across the country continue to rally around St. Petersburg Democrat Michele Rayner’s bid for Congress.
The Equality PAC, a national organization dedicated to electing openly LGBTQ candidates, endorsed Rayner on Tuesday, along with openly gay U.S. Reps. David Cicilline, a Rhode Island Democrat, and Mark Takano, a California Democrat.
“I am very grateful to have the endorsement of Equality PAC and these two outstanding members of Congress in my campaign for Florida’s 13th Congressional District,” Rayner said. “Reps. Cicilline and Takano have paved the way for broader LGBTQ representation in Congress and I am honored to have their support.”
Rayner, a state Representative and the only lesbian currently serving in the Florida Legislature, is running to succeed Rep. Charlie Crist, a St. Petersburg Democrat running for Governor next year.
Cicilline, the longest-serving openly LGBTQ member of the House, offered high praise to Rayner.
“As one of just 11 openly LGBTQ members of Congress, I am acutely aware of how important it is to broaden our representation in Washington and I am thrilled to endorse Rep. Michele Rayner to represent Florida’s 13th Congressional District,” Cicilline said. “Rep. Rayner would be the first openly queer Black woman to serve in the United States Congress and send an incredible message of representation and inclusivity to people across the country. I’ve seen her fight for her community in the state legislature and know she will be a relentless advocate for the people of Florida and LQBTQ community in Congress. She is running a strong, grassroots campaign and I’m look forward to doing everything I can to help her win.”
Takano also stressed the importance of election more queer people of color to serve in Congress.
“I am proud to endorse Rep. Michele Rayner in Florida’s 13th Congressional District. Rep. Rayner’s history-making election as the first openly queer Black woman to serve in the Florida Legislature is a testament both to her commitment to public service and to the importance of LGBTQ representation across the country. I am inspired by the ferocity with which she has fought our community during her time in Tallahassee and I know she will bring the same dedication to U.S. Congress.”
The news came less than two weeks after Rayner landed on a list of endorsements by the LGBTQ Victory Fund.
Rayner noted the high staked of electing more LGBTQ members to Congress. She pointed to the need to pass the Equality Act, which expands civil rights protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
“I always have been and always will be a strong proponent of the Equality Act, a necessary and long-overdue piece of national legislation,” she said.
“As it stands, some 27 states still do not have explicit, statewide laws protecting LGTBQ individuals from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in housing, employment and public services. Furthermore, we have seen an unprecedented amount of anti-LGBTQ legislation introduced in state legislatures, over 250 bills this year alone. This all out assault on LGBTQ communities must stop. If elected, I will fight tirelessly, just as I have in Tallahassee, to protect the rights of LGBTQ individuals across the country. No state in this country should be permitted to discriminate against someone just because of who they are or whom they love.”
Rayner faces state Rep. Ben Diamond and former Barack Obama advisor Erin Lynn in a Democratic primary.