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Watch: First Openly-LGBTQ Florida State Senator Chokes Up in Debate Over ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill



Florida’s first openly-LGBTQ state senator choked up and was momentarily unable to speak as he described his personal experiences growing up gay, during debate over the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

Democratic Sen. Shevrin Jones offered an amendment that would replace the ban on “classroom instruction” of LGBTQ issues and people, with language banning efforts to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

“I’ve been watching the news and watching these children who are here in these chambers and they are here to raise their voices and it’s commendable to see what they’re doing. If you all want to indulge me, indulge me just a few minutes I just want to share something with you.”

“So my dad, who is an amazing human being, he wrote a book not too long ago. And the book that my dad wrote, it was inspiring as most of you know, my dad’s a pastor down in South Florida. The book that my dad wrote, was inspired by the loss of my brother. But then as I continued to read the introduction of my dad’s book for the first time, [it] just came out about three weeks ago. It was also speaking about his disappointment…” Sen. Jones said, and then stopped, unable to speak.

“It was my dad talking about, it was my dad talking about his disappointment. After me. After taking 30 years of just wanting to make him and my mom proud and just coming out just who I am. And so seeing these kids. I don’t think y’all understand how much courage it takes for these children to show up every day. Just imagine living your life for 30 years and you come into your parents and you talk about who you are. And you’re lying to them about who you are.”

“I never wanted to disappoint my dad. I even told him that I don’t think you’re even we ran for office. It was, it was difficult because people calling your name people saying things to you. And all you want to do is serve. I never knew that living my truth would cause church members to leave my dad’s church, or friends to stop talking to me. Or families to make jokes about who you are. In my heart, I don’t believe any of you here my colleagues, many of whom I’ve known for years I believe that we all want to do right. It seemed as if politics has, we have gone down a road to where we’re scared to just step out to make sure we’re not hurting people.”

Sen. Jones’ amendment failed, 16-22.



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