Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican U.S. Representative from Florida, made history when she began her political career in 1982. Now, after 35 years of public service, Ros-Lehtinen has announced she will retire next year.
“It’s been such a delight and a high honor to serve our community for so many years and help constituents every day of the week,” Ros-Lehtinen told The Miami Herald on Sunday. “We just said, ‘It’s time to take a new step.'”
Ros-Lehtinen turns 65 next year, and even though she could continue on, she said it was just time.
If you’re wondering about her accomplishments, let’s get into it.
In 1982, she became the first Latina elected to the Florida State House of Representatives.
In 1986, she was the first Latina elected to the Florida Senate.
“I sponsored the legislation for the Florida Pre Paid College Program, which is now the largest pre-paid college tuition program in the nation,” Ros-Lehtinen said of her work back then. “More than one million Florida families have used this program to send their children to college.”
She was also the first Latina elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1989.
#TBT to the day when I wore Angela Lansbury-style glasses from Murder, She Wrote to meet President George H.W. Bush (before he got into crazy socks)! I guess only one of us can be a trendsetter though Dexter hasn’t given up on us solving mysteries in Cabot Cove or having me change my name to Jessica Fletcher.
That’s a lot — but there’s more.
In 2012, Ros-Lehtinen became the first Republican in Congress to publicly support marriage equality.
Credit: Human Rights Campaign / YouTube
In the video above, she talks about how her transgender son, Rodrigo, helped her get involved in LGBT rights.
Ros-Lehtinen was also the first GOP member of Congress to back marriage equality.
Michael Cole-Schwartz, spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, said in 2011 about Ros-Lehtinen:
“Her willingness to be a leader in the Republican Party on LGBT issues, including becoming the first Republican member of Congress to embrace marriage equality, is opening the way for other Republican officials to speak out.”
She’s also one of the only Republicans to be vocal in her opposition to President Donald Trump.
In fact, she says she didn’t vote for either of the candidates.
“I will work with whomever is chosen by the American people to serve as president, because I deeply respect the American constitutional system,” the congresswoman said in a statement. “In this election, I do not support either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.”
But he’s definitely not the reason why she’s retiring.
Who would have ever guessed this 8-year-old girl who left Havana, Cuba in 1952 would have done so much for the American people?
For that we say thank you!
But wait, she’s not leaving us just yet…
She still has one more year to go!!
READ: Living With A White Mormon Family As A Foster Kid Was ‘A Real Identity Struggle’ Yet Something That Shaped His Career