Darryl Rouson and LGBT Issues

Since Dave Trotter published this 2005 video the other day much discussion has permeated Florida Democratic circles about Darryl Rouson and LGBT issues. Rouson is considered the runaway front runner to be the next House Democratic leader. I have already editorialized that I feel the next leader should be if possible a woman as the House Democratic Caucus has a woeful record of promoting women into leadership positions over the past decade.  However, let me state that it is important to pick the best possible leader and with the discussion of Rouson becoming poisoned recently, I sought out a few reliable sources on this issue.

It appears Rouson has “evolved” on the issue of LGBT rights from advocating outright discrimination in 2005 to being a supporter and some have told me even a champion of these rights in 2013. In fact his “evolution” while perhaps more pronounced than many progressives does mirror to an extent what has happened on the left and in general throughout American society over the past decade.

In 1996 & 1997, the majority of Democrats in both the Florida Legislature AND Congress voted to ban gay marriage, passing the infamous “Defense of Marriage Act,” (one would think with a title like that they were addressing the massive problem of divorce particularly among American conservatives) which was promoted by right-wing think tanks and their handmaidens in the punditry. President Clinton signed the bill, and Governor Chiles reluctantly allowed it become law in Florida (he actually didn’t sign the ball just let it become law). Yet fifteen years and change later, progressives are generally unified in favor of gay marriage and full civil rights and equality under the law.

Rouson is in my opinion NOT a progressive, thanks to his advocacy of school “choice” legislation and his willingness to take money from the out of  state right-wing interests that fund the school “choice” movement in alliance with Jeb Bush and fundamentalist religious organizations. But allowing others to move to a respectable position on these issues and not respecting Rouson’s ability to “evolve” regarding LGBT related matters is simply not consistent. That having been said, Rouson’s overall record still concerns me, but I have been assured by those in LGBT community that I respect that this is no longer an issue.

Furthermore, it is worth noting that Rouson has a better record of co-sponsoring and advocating legislation that would promote equality under the law for gays and lesbians in recent years than either of his opponents for Democratic Leader.


56 thoughts on “Darryl Rouson and LGBT Issues

  1. Please note that St. Rep. Mia Jones received the 2012 Middle Class Champions award from Progress Florida, Florida Watch Action, and America Votes. This recognition tracked votes on issues including the budget, prison privatization, foreclosure protection, parent trigger, women’s health, intrusive drug testing, redistricting, and wage theft. Rep. Jones is one of only 22 State House members so honored (out of 120).

  2. If I was voting for them based on policy, I would choose Rep. Jones. Because their fundraising and recruiting talents are what is important in this situation, I have to say that Rep. Rouson would get my vote. He is a dynamic speaker, whereas I have never seen Rep. jones stand out in committee or on the floor. Rep. Rouson overcame drug addiction to become the man he is today. He is open about it, and I appreciate that someone could survive addiction and come out from it the way he has. His story is the epitome of what our party is.

  3. This is an interesting trun around regarding Rouson.

    However, his Anti-Choice position is still of great concern. He has said that he could not in good conscience support Choice. He forgets that it is about exaclty that – Choice. It should be up to the individuals involved to make that Choice and not up to the Government. Seems these Republicans and their ilk want less Government, except when it comes to women. Then they want to be right in the bed with us.

    Rouson forgets he represents everyone in his District and not just himself or those that are Anti-Choice. To these folks I say – if you do not approve of a Choice in your life – then make your own decisions to not have an abortion and leave others to make the decison for themselves without imposing your will on them. These very same people are the ones that want to decrease funding to the WIC programs, Planned Parenthood – where many women go for birthcontrol / GYN care and SNAP (Food Stamp Program).

    If your religion Rep Rouson does not allow abortion – then please do not have one – but leave that same Choice available for others to make on their own.

  4. Rep. Rouson is AWFUL. He is clueless about issues regarding women’s health and GLBT issue but I am sure the Democratic Party of Florida will give him a free pass since they are pushing Crist whose record is just as awful.

  5. This guy is just as bad as last year’s leader who told the caucus to not worry about being pro-choice. You don’t remember how Rep. Campbell did a press conference with the Republicans. If you have not figured it out yet the state party is a joke due to Christian and many others. Lock them up and throw away the key in your uterus….with this group they don’t even know where that is.

  6. You have his position wrong, he is PERSONALLY not supportive of abortions, but his doesnt vote for any bills that would LIMIT choice. In fact, I cant find a single anti-women bill that he has voted for on the House website

  7. Actually, Rep. Rouson was amazingly outspoken and passionate when speaking on the Floor during the abortion bills last year. A pleasure to watch him stand up for reproductive justice.

  8. Rouson is not progressive enough. Do we need another conservative leader who takes no positions on issues?

    Mia Jones? Are you kidding me. She has NO RECORD worth anything. She votes well but doesn’t lead on the floor or with activists.

    Alan Williams? Laughable!!!

    You wonder why we are in a hyper-minority state? Look at our choices for leader!!!!!

  9. It’s easy to find some position you find wrong with everyone of our party and legislative leaders. Clearly some issues are more important than others, but I’d rather have someone who agrees with me 75% of the time than support someone who I agree with only 10%!

    Let’s get on with finding a way to unite and BEAT REPUBLICANS rather than cutting up our own!! Allow the ultra rightwing GOP/Tea Party nuts do that job!! They continue to be very successful!!

  10. Doug,

    I agree with you regarding about the 75% of the time issue but here is the thing. The Democrats are pushing Crist as well who is going down with the Republicans and he is only good on the environment…that’s your 10%. This guy is wrong on this issue and a great deal more than 10%. The Tea Party is no longer going to be tea and the Democrats are going to be left with a party of leaders who are wrong on the majority of the issues. The only difference between the 2 parties is the social issues.

  11. Rouson is the hard working leader we need. You need to push for him if you really want to change the party rather than just pontificating about it.

  12. Rep. Mia Jones was awarded the 2012 Middle Class Champions Award because of her 100% progressive voting record. Rep. Rouson did NOT get the award because he voted FOR the Omnibus Anti-Choice bill attacking women’s reproductive rights. He also voted FOR the Drug Testing Bill which required all recipients of public assistance to get and pay for a drug test. The bill was later found unconstitutional. Rep. Jones is collaborative and inclusive — and a true progressive. Please tell your Dem State Reps to vote for her as incominig leader.

  13. Caucus….in response to his record:
    drug testing
    prayer in school
    open carry guns

    FYI women’s issues include public schools and for US to teach our kids to pray at home. It is not only just about our organs (which also is up to us)

    Rouson is AWFUL

  14. HB 277 the Attack On Women’s Health bill
    Anti-middle class extremists continued their long-running war on women by introducing their Omnibus Anti-Choice Act, which attempted to create a host of new barriers and restrictions to women’s access to reproductive health care.
    See vote here: http://flhouse.gov/Sections/Bills/floorvote.aspx?VoteId=13142&BillId=47409&&

    HB 1205 the Intrusive Drug Testing bill
    Last year, a federal judge suspended Gov. Scott’s plan to drug test all Floridians who apply for public assistance. This year, despite urgings to stop wasting taxpayer dollars trying to defend a clearly unconstitutional law, Scott’s anti-middle class allies worked to pass a new, intrusive drug testing regime though the Legislature.
    See vote here: http://flhouse.gov/Sections/Bills/floorvote.aspx?VoteId=13149&BillId=48458&&

  15. Sorry, Ellis. Read below what you posted. He changed his vote to nay.
    As far as the drug testing bill, while I do not agree with the methodology of having to pay up front when you have no money, as an admitted former drug user maybe he thought it would help people get and stay clean.

  16. Rouson is our best hope to break up the corrupt inept cabal that runs the FDP now that theyhave stolen the chairs race. He will be a reformer and a fantastic leader.

  17. HB 277 is once again a misleading attack. If look further down on the link you provide, Rep. Rouson actually switched the vote to no a couple minutes after the roll call. If I remember correctly, the bill was voted on very quickly, so he probably hit the wrong button and changed it when the mistake was realized. As far as the drug testing bill, understand the context: he was a former drug addict and became rehabilitated, so his position now is very anti-drugs. I personally disagree with this position, but I can respect the fact that drugs almost ruined his life and can respect that this would effect his position

    Honestly, y’all are just grasping at straws at this point

  18. Rouson ….you are all nuts. I am tired of elected officials only taking themselves into account when voting for something. I was a crack whore, who is transgender and enjoy sleeping with animals in the past. So I am going to vote for drug testing and no having sex with animals. Come on. The class of these people are worthless. For Ellis, if you dont know the record you look kind of dumb saying my girlsfriends told me. Seriously?

  19. Actually, if you look he changed it an hour after the vote. If the earliest vote “after the vote” was at 3:45, then 4:49 was, let’s see, 64 minutes later. Why the delay?

    Artiles 03/14/2012 12:31:33 PM
    Brandes 03/01/2012 03:45:23 PM
    Dorworth 03/01/2012 03:45:44 PM
    Fullwood 03/01/2012 03:59:37 PM
    Jenne 03/01/2012 03:53:29 PM
    Randolph 03/30/2012 11:16:19 AM
    Yeas To Nays
    Rouson 03/01/2012 04:49:40 PM

  20. What has he done that would make him a good leader? If I am going to support the guy, I want a little bit of history.Go ahead, convince me. Also, don’t use the “he is better than Mia Jones” argument either because I don’t support her either.

  21. What is your “support” any way? You have no voting power in this nor are you even a resident of this state. Your whole liberal litmus tests are what’s wrong w the party. I’m sorry but extreme liberalism is not what people want to see. It will take the party down much like the tea party is sinking the republican ship.

  22. Alright, let me ask the question again….”what would make Rouson a good leader”? Attacking me doesn’t answer the question. So, let’s take another crack at it, shall we?

  23. Many people have stated it many times, Dave. He is taken seriously amongst donors. He has gravitas. He is not left of left and is moderate, which represents the majority of Floridians. He is savvy at recruiting candidates and has proven that he will be aggressive at doing so. And finally, he will stop the b.s. cycle that we have at the FDP of donors and consultants picking our candidates based on who will make them the most money.

  24. Jones has done nothing to prove that she will be committed to the time it takes to run HV. Its almost identical to Alison Tant taking over the Party…its a person that won’t stand in the way of the staff and consultants running the show. And they really suck at running the show, btw. Its quite unbelievable.

  25. Again, words are nice, but show me some history. How do we know he is “taken seriously amongst donors”? Show me where he has made an impact. The only thing I have seen so far is that he won a highly Democratic district, that is it. I have seen no other qualities for Rouson.

    Also, if saying that resorting to former Republicans is the basis of rebuilding the Democratic Party, then the argument is flawed from the start.

  26. When did I make the argument that we need former republicans to rebuild the party? I’m on the ground in tallahassee with most of the donors that give to the caucuses. I have been for years and have seen effective and ineffective leaders come and go. No one who has access to large dollar donations knows anything about Mia jones except tht she is a liberal. She will do ok w the unions but tht is but a small percentage of the overall contributions we need to run races. Rouson is considered a moderate and is on excellent committees. He is thoughtful and doesn’t pull knee jerk liberal votes. Bottom line: he is taken seriously amongst donors. And Dave, if you want to talk more offline about how i know this then we can. Have you ever raised money for a political party or a caucus? Have you seen the fundraising numbers for the caucuses and who their donors are? Do you know the limit that unions in fl have in terms of fundraising juice? Do you understand that money is the single most important thing to gaining back seats? You speak as if you are an expert on these issues and you speak very condescendingly towards others that may object to your opinion but I’ve not seen any proof that you know anything more than an outsider looking in. Why don’t you come to tallahassee for a while and develop relationships w donors and see a session live for once?

  27. And the “proof” that you need is that Rouson effectively helped raise money and recruit candidates for the 2012 cycle. He is the only house dem that really did anything for other house members in 2012 which is why he has so much support amongst new members. You have stated time and again correctly tht our races were pitiful in 2012 under perry and Ulvert. In 12 Rouson did what perry failed to do and what will hurt his leadership: he paid attention to the massive amounts of new members who never got rerun phone calls from hv.

  28. we have the option of elevating someone who can organize, aise money and has the respect of the caucus in Rouson or we can continue the status quo. The choice is simple and this website which has been so eager and rightfully so to advocate change needs to get on the right side of the tracks with this one. Dave does not seem to get it at all and Kartik is waffling. Both disapointments honestly.

  29. This is certainly true. Rouson raised money and traveled the state for Dem candidates. The leader Thurston was locked down in a high profile southeast Florida trial and never really did what a leader designee should do. I have seen this before. Everyone wanted to play the race card when Logan was ousted but the reality is we had gone through a session with him as a leader designee and he wasn’t raising money and party switching was occurring party because the Dems in moderate/conservative districts were getting nervous about finance for the 1998 election. Maybe we should have turned right there and then to Les Miller and avoided the whole racial thing that helped kill the 1998 election for the party from top to bottom.

    You cannot have an absentee leader designee is my point. Sara makes an excellent point here.

  30. We don’t need any more proof how poor the consultants and staff are at running the party. They have proven it time and time again. At the same time, running them off isn’t safe either because Scott Maddox did that and they worked like heck to sabotage his chairmanship. His arrogance allowed them to, and what resulted was a bloodbath in 2004. So running them off has to be done gingerly or they must be isolated from the bulk of elected officials that make up the House and Senate caucus BEFORE they are run off.

  31. Kartik – good point about the consultants although I am not sure that I recall that happening to Maddox in 2004. My understanding of Maddox’s downfall was Maddox himself. He mismanaged Party funds and lost the trust of SV and HV (in fact spending money meant for senate and house races without consulting w leadership). He then didn’t pay payroll taxes nor worker’s comp leaving the Party in the red while the IRS shut us down creating a National embarrassment. I could be wrong, but I believe that was all Maddox’s doing and not the run-off consultants. Are those same consultants back? I’m not sure who they all were. My understanding is that we have had pretty much the same consultants for the last 10 years.

  32. Back to Kartik’s point about not having an absentee leader. Mia Jones has a full-time job back in the district while Rouson is an atty with a firm that understands and supports the political power of its employees and will allow Rouson to run the caucus political operations unencumbered. That alone should make her unqualified and unable to devote the time and energy it takes to travel the state raising money and recruiting candidates. Ulvert will have complete control of the operations much like under Perry and we will find that we lost yet another cycle of pick-ups.

  33. Sara you are right about Maddox but my point was that those consultants (yes the same ones we have today that were empowered by the last two chairs and will run riot with the new one) blew up any mistake Maddox made and he made plenty of them. He started with enemies on a fishing expedition because those consultants have influence over the unions, the trial lawyers and lots of Senate/House caucus members.

    Maddox really f’d up. No doubt, but these consultants were out to get him from day one when he dismissed them. Now that they were brought back in the Thurman/Smith years and will have a Chair that let’s them run the show in Tant, we could be in for a complete disaster. On another subject, I am not convinced from what I hear that Tant is this prolific fundraiser many have made her to be. I know Dave has advocated folding HV/SV back into the party but I am not sure we want to do that right now if Rouson becomes the leader. It may be best to keep them out of the mainline party for one more cycle given that we cannot be sure if Tant will raise enough money to fund other races and we cannot afford to have $ spent on the House races diverted to cover shortfalls elsewhere. In theory I completely agree with folding in HV/SV back into the FDP but maybe we need to wait another cycle or two to do this.

  34. Kartik – TOTALLY agree about not being convinced on Tant’s ability to raise money. Raising money for Nelson and Obama is totally diff than raising funds for a state party. Different donor pool and totally different donor motivation. We won’t have the same “living room fundraising” that Obama had in FL…we can’t ever expect to. We don’t have a reliable brand to sell nor do we have a compelling coordinated campaign to tout.

  35. Dave, Rouson has more than half of the caucus supporting his candidacy for leader and mainly bc he helped them raise money and advised them on their own elections. When Perry finally allows a vote, you will then see who these members are and can have the concrete proof that a guy in Michigan or N Dakota or wherever you are currently residing “needs” to “support” someone running for House Dem leader in FL.

  36. Dave if you were actually in Florida consistently and involved in campaigns consistently you would understand. You make some great arguments on this blog but other things you say and advocate are completely off the mark and your unwillingneaa to bend or admit you juat do not know in some cases undermines your overall credibility.

  37. Sara you don’t understand the concerns which are that Rouson was a Republican and a party which stands for nothing cannot win. Your moderates have run the party for years and what do we have to show for it? Permanent minority status and constant statewide loses. You attack the tea party but they swept statewide in 2010 vs. an aimless Democratic Party that stood for NOTHING whatsoever.

  38. We need someone who can raise $. The seats you guys always point to, the close loses occurred because of lack of funds and incompetent leadership/consultants.

    You can pontificate all you want about things but unless you are on the ground or in a decision making role you just don’t understand it.

    Dave I respect the heck out of you but sitting in Chicago lobbing missiles has cost us a chair’s race and now maybe a house leader. Your influence once positive has now become highly negative.

  39. Tyler – the 2010 losses really had more to do with the National stage and Obama’s very liberal agenda out of the gate. Ask any of the Dems who were caught up in the wave of Tea Party wins..they weren’t in the liberal areas of the country but in the moderate areas. Its also very common on non-Presidential years after a win for the same Party to lose seats on the next Election.

    Legislative Dems have not made it possible to separate themselves from national politics or trends bc we do not have a state party that promotes their policies.

    As for Rouson being a Republican…well Hillary Clinton was once a Republican. People are “allowed” to change and many who have done so were disenfranchised by their own Party. Look at people like Dockery, Fasano, Crist and even Chris Chrisitie…they are good moderates who have been shunned by the R Party for being too moderate. We are doing the same to people in the D Party…we are reducing the size of our tent by excluding those with varying opinions. That’s not the Dem Party that I used to be proud to be a part of.

    I say we as Dems should take advantage of the Republican Party becoming more exclusive and extreme by opening our borders to those who can’t find a country. Let’s show the electorate that we embrace a lot of different ideologies and allow members in moderate to conservative districts the ability to represent their constituents better and not just the Party. That’s what its all about anyway, right? Representing the people that sent you there the best way possible?

  40. Kartik – true…its a little bit of both. We have limited funds to run legislative races and we need to choose our seats pretty early on and stick with them. Trying to “fake out” R’s and pretend to run races across the map is crazy bc unlike us, the R’s pretty much have unlimited funds. We try that and the joke is always on us.

  41. I think Trotter ought to focus on Illinois politics. His answers and remarks show that he has gone wet.

  42. This is true that we are heavily outspent but we’ve matters worse with our consultants inability to be disciplined and consistent with our targets. We need to pick targets and stick with them. What happens is our consultants mislead and lie to candidates and play “flavor of the week” politics by shifting targets and resources constantly. We lack discipline, conviction and consistency in what we do as a party and that’s why we have been losing badly for two decades.

  43. I disagree with this debate about the Tea Party. While establishment Republicans have treated the tea party with contempt, the Tea Party won them the US House in 2010 AND a number of legislative chambers which they had not held since reconstruction in the south. It also was pivotal in flipping the Ohio, PA and Michigan legislatures to the GOP and allowing them to control the reapportionment process. The Tea Party also defined for the GOP a set of principles which some consider reactionary but are in fact to a certain extent reform minded. Establishment Republicans are “feeding at the trough” and resent the tea party but in reality THEY lost their party the Congressional majority in 2006 and piloted a disastrous 2008 cycle. Establishment Republicans may claim they would have won in 2012 without the Tea Party “damaging” the GOP brand but the real damage to the GOP brand was done in the Bush years by “neo-conservatives” whose foreign policy beliefs are really left wing if we objectively judge them and take party labels out of it. I happen to believe George W. Bush was the most leftist President on foreign policy since Woodrow Wilson and his administration destroyed the GOP brand for a generation. Traditionally foreign interventions and wars were the exclusive province of the Democrats. (Bob Dole once said “Democrat wars” and he was right. Republican administrations knew how to project American power abroad and Democrats generally didn’t.) The GOP was more responsible and wiser on foreign affairs and as the party of business understood the damage unwise entanglements could do to the USA’s reputation abroad and to the business. I think the Tea Party on foreign policy was just trying to bring some common sense to the debate and position the GOP in a respectable position.

    All these nonsensical economic sanctions which hurt American business (also the Florida Legislature passing “divestment” legislation is absolute stupidity), constant meddling in disputes where no US vital interest exists and the continued effort to oppose the likes of Chuck Hagel have done more to hurt the GOP brand than the Tea Party. The neo-cons, almost all of which were Democrats until the 1980s are responsible for the GOP’s image problem. The Tea Party debate is an insider debate. The Tea Party has brought new energy to GOP grassroots activists, the conservative grassroots that was killed by Bush’s leftist policies and has reconnected those who didn’t turn out in 2006 and weren’t enthusiastic in 2008 with the GOP. It is worth noting Romney 2012 performance nationally was far better than McCain’s in 2008, a contradiction of history when reelected incumbent Presidents tend to do better than the previous election.

    I am a liberal who is ideologically opposed to the tea party on most (but not all) issues but do respect what they’ve accomplished and feel if Republican establishment pols and insiders want to know what’s gone wrong for their party they ought to look in the mirror.

  44. Kartik, you just repeated what I said about the problem w our consultants and races. I guess I will take it that we agree.

    As for the Tea Party. I’m not sure you’re right. You speak of them like they have been a constant variable but they have evolved or devolved into something completely different than what they were in 2009. Insider republicans promoted the creation of the tea party for many of the reasons you stated: new volunteers, new energy, a way to excite a pissed off electorate that didn’t agree w bush’s brand of conservative. But they have since attracted an out of control mob of people that are totally unreliable and uncontrollable. Example: Florida’s debate with the ACA. After the SC decision Speaker Gaetz very rightly ceded and began to start the process of implementing the new mandate. Did you see the committee meeting where the Tea Party leaders cried mutiny and were completely out of control? They are now calling for a full blown revolution or a succession from the union. When conservatives like Gaetz start shunning a self identified conservative group, you’re losing control.

  45. The Tea Party also created the most hilarious shit show of a republican primary that no doubt helped us keep the presidency. I love it and hope they are here to stay and continue to make republicans look extreme and out of touch. The leaders they elect help us tremendously (Allan west, etc) and the strangle hold they have on the republicans is pretty awesome.

  46. I agree on some level with your assessment of the Tea Party but reiterate that the GOP was headed for the wilderness thanks to the damage done in the Bush years when foreign policy idealism/liberalism destroyed the traditional advantage going back to the 1960s that the Republicans enjoyed on national security and foreign affairs issues. That led to the 2006 and 2008 election debacles for them more than anything else. It should be noted that significant elements of the Democratic left have reacted to the GOP’s wayward drift on foreign policy to occupy a positions on the ideological spectrum held by the dangerous conservative Republican isolationists of the 1920s and 1930s, a group whose views on foreign policy led directly to the Great Depression and World War II.

    You are right that the Tea Party over reach has now cost the Republicans but I’d argue they would not be even close to the position they are in politically in many states and in Congress had the Tea Party not rescued them from themselves in 2009-2010.

  47. I agree 100% with you on the consultants. We both know who they are. I’d say we have about five of them that have been around a while and have proven to be the GOP’s secret weapon in this state as they have kept the Democrats down for a decade plus now.

  48. Kartik, I’m not sure what we’re debating any more. I mentioned tea party extremism hurting the republican’s effort to recreate their brand. As in the here, now and present. Getting into a history lesson spanning back to wwII wasn’t really the point of all if this.

    But just a point of clarification. I don’t believe that the federal laws that governed the us to be isolationist around ww II helped create WW II. We were but a small part of the war once we entered but we sure did profit quite a bit before, during and after. Now we had our taste of war profiteering, we can’t seem to stop.

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