As Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen Retires from Congress, We Reflect on Her Legacy of LGBTQ Inclusion within the Republican Party

Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has been in elected office for over three decades, and is retiring from Congress where she has represented the 27th district of Florida. Rep. Ros-Lehtinen has been a pioneer of LGBTQ rights and speaks often about her love for her transgender son, Rodrigo, and their journey as a family towards acceptance and understanding. Her voice has been one of the loudest Republican voices on Capitol Hill in support of dignity and equality for transgender people and demonstrates that equality is not about partisanship or politics – it’s about people.

Ros-Lehtinen filmed a TV ad with her husband and son called “Family is Everything.” Ros-Lehtinen’s son is Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, who serves as Freedom for All Americans’ Vice President of Public Education.

As the debate over transgender rights has grown louder over the past several years, Ros-Lehtinen’s focus has been on the safety of LGBTQ youth and how best we can protect LGBTQ people from discrimination.

In 2017, she told Cosmopolitan magazine,

“I have a transgender son who was born Amanda, but he is now Rodrigo. We call him Rigo. It’s a tough journey that any parent of a transgender child goes through, but love is love, and family is everything.:

Rep. Ros-Lehtinen continued: “The issue of marriage equality, that was something the whole country had evolved on. Now it’s so accepted within our society, and I think it makes us a better country. If more members of our party listened to their hearts and acted on that, I think that we would be better off. They’re thinking that their constituents would not be in favor of marriage equality and I think that they will find that that’s not true. When I said that I was in favor of it, I expected a lot of backlash. And it is there. I’m not going to say that it isn’t. But by and large, people understand.”

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