MIAMI – Last week, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida), became the first sitting House Republican to publicly announce her support of same-sex marriage. Ros-Lehtinen— whose 18th congressional district includes many LGBT constituents in Miami Beach, South Beach, and the Florida Keys—was featured speaker at the July 10 Washington, D.C. reception to launch Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry.
Ros-Lehtinen, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, immigrated to Miami from Cuba in 1969. She told the assembly of about 100 that “The right of individuals to lead their lives without government intrusion is a bedrock Republican, conservative value.” She added that this “is more than just about sexual orientation,” it is “about the fundamental rights that we all share as Americans.”
She added: “No one should have to deal with government red tape when it comes to committing themselves to those whom they love.” In 2010, Ros-Lehtinen—who turned 60 on Sunday—was one of 15 House Republicans to vote for the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. In 2011, Ros- Lehtinen became the first House Republican to co-sponsor the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
At Friday’s event, when asked by a reporter if she is a supporter of marriage equality, Ros-Lehtinen said, “I am.” She added—as if depriving an errant thought of its liberty—“No, I am.”