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Her Transgender Son Helped The First Latina Senator In Florida Stand For LGBTQ Rights

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.

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.

Proud to record a message with my son, Rigo, and hubby, Dex, highlighting our love for all our children @savelgbt

A post shared by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (@roslehtinen) on

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.

Had to celebrate #NationalCoffeeDay with @repmariodb @repcurbelo! My #DC office keeps lots of folks caffeinated!

A post shared by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (@roslehtinen) on

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

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Bernie Sanders Faces Backlash For Saying That Not ‘Everything Is Bad’ In Castro’s Cuba

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Bernie Sanders Faces Backlash For Saying That Not ‘Everything Is Bad’ In Castro’s Cuba

berniesanders / Instagram

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is once again touting what he sees as the benefits of Fidel Castro’s Cuba. The Vermont senator first made comments praising parts of Castro’s Cuba in a 1985 interview. Now, 15 years later, Sen. Sanders is standing behind his idea that not everything is bad in Cuba in a 60 Minutes interview.

Senator Bernie Sanders is facing backlash from critics after his 60 Minutes interview because of his comments on Fidel Castro’s Cuba.

In the 1980s, Sen. Sanders was caught on camera more than once praising parts of the Castro regime in Cuba. He points to the health care and education systems as parts of the government that works for Cuban people. The comments resurfaced in 2019 and caused a backlash against the senator in the Cuban diaspora, whose pains are still fresh from the overthrow of the government.

Now, in a “60 Minutes” interview, the Vermont senator has doubled down on his comments that some of the Cuban government is good.

Anderson Cooper – “What is Democratic Socialism?”

Bernie Sanders – “When Donald Trump was a private businessman in New York, he got $800 million in tax breaks and subsidies to build luxury housing. That’s called Socialism. What Democratic Socialism is about is saying, ‘Let’s use the federal government to protect the interest of working families.’”

BS – “We’re very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba. But, you know, it’s simply unfair to say that everything is bad. You know, when Fidel Castro came into office, you know what he did? He had a massive literacy program. Is that a bad thing, even though Fidel Castro did it?”

AC – “There were a lot of dissidents imprisoned in Cuba.”

BS – “That’s right and we condemn that. Unlike Donald Trump, let’s be clear. I do not think that Kim Jung Un is a good friend. I don’t trade love letters with a murdering dictator. Vladimir Putin, not a great friend of mine.”

The comments have sparked some backlash on social media from Cubans and Cuban-Americans.

Credit: @marcorubio / Twitter

Senator Marco Rubio, who is Cuban-American, has been a vocal opponent of Socialism. He has used the crisis in Venezuela to solidify his point about the dangers of the government system he believes Sen. Sanders wants to start in the U.S. Yet, Sen. Sanders’s point is not that the Castro regime is good. In the “60 Minutes” interview, the senator made it clear that he does not support the Castro regime and the brutality it caused for the Cuban people. However, he does believe there are things we can learn from the Caribbean island about offering health care and education to the population.

One point of contention with the senator’s comments is that the Cuban people didn’t fight back because of the new programs.

Credit: @DebbieforFL / Twitter

The Castro regime is known to have oppressed dissidents and political opponents. Speaking out against the authoritarian regime was not safe. People were jailed, killed, and exiled for standing up to Castro’s rise to power. Families fled the island and settled around the world to escape what they saw as a justifiable threat to their lives and sovereignty.

Some people are sharing personal stories of their families’ treatment under the Castro regime.

Credit: @GiancarloSopo / Twitter

The generational trauma created by the Castro regime is still felt today. Some people used Sen. Sanders’s comments as a chance to tell a fuller story of the government some have praised for their social services.

A clip of President Barack Obama speaking on the same social issues in Cuba is also circulating.

President Obama worked tirelessly to reopen relations between the U.S. and Cuba. He was the first sitting president to visit the island when it was announced that diplomatic ties were reopened between the two countries. Part of being able to open those relations was eliminating the “wet foot, dry foot” policy that allowed Cuban nationals to stay in the U.S. after migrating. This allowed Cubans to be deported back to Cuba, something that hadn’t happened since Cubans first started to flee their homeland. In response, Cubans illegally in the U.S. have been subjected to ICE raids and detention for the first time because of President Donald Trump’s increasing escalation against the immigrant community.

There is a lot of concern from Democratic supporters that the comment could cost the party Florida in the general election if Sen. Sanders is nominated.

Credit: @IvanBrandon / Twitter

The Cuban and Cuban-American population in Florida is a key demographic to win the state in general elections. His comments cherry-picking what is and is not good about the Cuban government is having a resonating effect in Florida. Cuban Democrats and Republicans in the state are untied in rebuking the senator’s comments as glossing over the true victimization and terror millions faced.

READ: Bernie Sanders Praises Fidel Castro And His Revolution In Cuba During Resurfaced Interview From 1985

10 Disabled Latinas Killing It In Fashion And Beauty

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10 Disabled Latinas Killing It In Fashion And Beauty

sofiajirau / Instagram

Thanks to ableist movies like “Me Before You,” “Split” and “The Shape of Water,” when most people think of disabilities they often associate it with all things depressing, scary or pitiful. Mainstream media  consistently portrays disabilities in a way that have led many of us to believe that those in the community only come with one story and one shade: ones that are depressing and white. Fortunately, the stories of the disabled community are so much diverse, they’re beautiful, fierce, many are positive and all come in the many different skin tones that contribute to Fenty Beauty’s existence.

Here are nine Disabled Latinas who are challenging beauty standards and showing the world how beautiful and diverse Disabled Latina beauty is.

1. Tamara Mena

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Happy #cincodemayo!! 🇲🇽 I’m Proud to be #Mexican!! So with that said, today is NOT Mexico’s Independence Day!! Today, a really important battle was won that led us to our Independence Day on September 16th! So it’s not Mexico’s Independence Day, today! Just for all of you who may not know!😉 But somehow this is a day that someone in the US figured out, hey let’s make a lot of money celebrating mexico, selling lots of margaritas 🍻 and tacos🌮! 🤷🏻‍♀️😄 So cheers to that! Enjoy today ☄️and be safe!!! Don’t drink and drive!!🙏 It’s not worth it! 😉 What ya think about this look? All my clothes and accessories were hand made and embroidered by indigenous people in Mexico!♥️ • OMG I forgot to tell you all the most important thing about today, TODAY IS THE ANNIVERSARY OF MY SECOND CAR ACCIDENT, in which I was driving! It was so bad that we dropped 50 feet, my car rolled over three times, that car is totaled…but by god’s grace and my angels watching over me,we all survived, my mom, @marthaelviap and my cousin @dayrarominna!🙏♥️ So today I don’t just celebrate, cinco de mayo, I celebrate life!! Because I’m SO so lucky to be alive so cheers to LIFE!!! • __________________ Feliz Cinco de Mayo, a los que lo celebran! Yo sé que en #Mexico no se celebra tanto como en E.U. Pero bueno cómo orgullosa Mexicana, les comparto esta foto!🇲🇽♥️ A celebrar! Pero si tomas, no manejes por favor!🙏 No vale la Pena 😉 Bendiciones! Les gusta este look? con ropa típica y accesorios hechos a mano por nuestros paisanos de #oaxaca! ♥️ • Chicos me olvidé de compartirles lo más importante de este día, HOY ES EL ANIVERSARIO DE MI SEGUNDO ACCIDENTE DE CARRO, en el cual yo estaba manejando! Fue horrible, tanto que nos caímos a un barranco y mi carro se volcó tres veces, caímos 50 pies y ese carro fue perdida total…Pero por la gracia de Dios y nuestros ángeles que nos estaban cuidando, todas sobrevivimos mi mamá, @marthaelviap y mi prima, @dayrarominna!🙏♥️ Así es que hoy no sólo celebró el “5 de Mayo” CELEBRÓ La VIDA!! Porque soy MUY afortunada en estar VIVA después de ese accidente, así es que salud por la vida!!! 🙌

A post shared by Tamara Mena (@tamaramenaofficial) on

Born and raised in Leon, Mexico, Mena immigrated to the United States at 13. The bilingual motivational speaker, actress, and model advocates for disability rights by frequently sharing her experiences on Instagram. When Tamara was 19, she suffered a car accident that left her paralyzed from the mid-chest down. The accident also caused the death of her boyfriend. In the years following the incident, Tamara has worked as a public speaker and encouraged others in the community on how to thrive in the face of a derailment. She participated in the famous beauty pageant Nuestra Belleza Latina as the first woman to be in a wheelchair in the competition and is one of the first Disabled talents to work with Ipsy. These days, she continues to use her voice and style to show young Disabled Latinas that they can achieve their dreams.

2. Jillian Mercado

This Disabled Afro-Latina has been killing it on the runway and in front of the camera since her modeling career took off when she landed an ad campaign with Diesel Jeans. Born with muscular dystrophy, a genetic disease that causes progressive weakness and loss of muscle mass, Jillian has used her voice to highlight how she and others have grown up with a severe lack of disabled representation in the fashion world. Since this New York Based Dominicana’s ad with Diesel Jeans, she has been signed with IMG models and has worked with Target and other large major brands. She’s definitely one to keep an eye on in the fashion world.

3. Marimar Quiroa

This Selona/Latina is killing the makeup game on Instagram and YouTube with her vibrant use of eyeshadows to create signature looks. Marimar is a 23-year-old Latina born with a facial tumor called “Cystic Hygroma.” She uses sign language to communicate with her followers on YouTube and Instagram and spreads a message to others to embrace their beauty. Growing up Marimar felt she needed to hide her face but after discovering makeup, she has embraced her features and found a passion in being a makeup artist.

4. Christina Feliz

Christina Feliz Martinez is a makeup artist and professional model based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Inspire by her Latinidad, chronic illness, and love for makeup, she uses her platform to share looks that she creates that celebrate it all. Because of her chronic illness, she has retired from modeling full time but does shoots occasionally. These days, she’s mostly focused on her work as a full-time makeup artist who highlights beauty products that can be a benefit to the chronic illness community.

5. Dru Presta

Standing at 3ft 4in, this Puerto Rican-Sicilian model born with a form of dwarfism is on a mission to change the fashion industry one photo at a time. Dru grew up in Reno, Nevada where she experiences bullying and isolation from her peers. Determined to not let the ugliness of others affect her, Presta uses her platform to show her audience that sexy can come in many sizes.

6. Annie Segarra

Annie Segarra, more commonly known online as Annie Elainey is a Disabled Peruvian-Ecuadorian Latinx with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) which is a connective tissue disorder. On YouTube, Annie creates videos that bring awareness to EDS but also speaks about the intersection of being disabled and Queer. Their platform has become a safe space for Disabled LGBTQ+ to feel seen and supported. When Annie isn’t creating videos, they’re slaying on Instagram with their #disabledandcute fashion looks. Their photos show outfits paired perfectly with their mobility aids.

7. Jessica Ruiz

Jessica Ruiz is a Puerto Rican-Irish makeup artist based in Philadelphia whose main tool in creating looks for her clients is her mouth!  Born with arthrogryposis, a condition that doesn’t allow her joints to move “normally”, she learned how to apply makeup with her mouth by holding the tools between her lips. She made makeup accessible for herself and after being rejected by a beauty school because of her disability she said “girl bye” and began a career for herself as a makeup artist. Her biggest break came when she had the opportunity to work at the Philadelphia Small Business Fashion Week where she was the lead makeup artist for the event. Jessica is making a name for herself as a disabled Latina MUA, and won’t be stopping any time soon!

8. Elsie Tellier

Living with Cystic Fibrosis (a terminal illness that affects the respiratory and gastrointestinal system), this Mexican-French Canadian uses her wheelchair to show off her love for fashion and her personality. After finding clothes that were comfortable and made her feel good while being in her chair, she began painting her wheels with pictures of galaxies and flowers to match her aesthetics. She uses her mobility aid as a fashion statement that challenges society’s absurd beauty standards. Tellier has said that her big goal is to see fashion brands make fashion accessible for those who use aids like wheelchairs, crutches, canes etc.

9. Giovanna “Gigi” Giscome

giovanawashere_/Instagram

This Afro-Latina from New York City and based in San Francisco Bay Area combines her love for fashion and modeling with her disability rights activism. Gigi has said that as she was growing up her parents taught her to love her disability but she soon noticed that that outside of her family atmosphere often revealed how uncomfortable they were with her disability. While she personally felt fine about being disabled she knew she wanted to change the mindset of others and did so with the help of fashion. Modeling and becoming a fashionista is Gigi’s way of fighting beauty standards which typically only showcase white, able models. Her fashion choices make a statement that both she and her disability are beautiful. Her photos show that she can bring it when it comes to high fashion with jaw-dropping looks.

10. Sofía Jirau

sofiajirau / Instagram

Sofia Jirau is a 22-year-old Puerto Rican model with Down Syndrome. She is, to say the least, a true jefa whose recent appearance on the runway at a New York Fashion Week show is undoubtedly a game-changer. While walking the runway this past week, the model lived out her dream of not only modeling in New York but also shaking up its fashion scene. “When I was little, I looked myself in the mirror and said, ‘I’m going to be a model and a businesswoman,’” Jirau told People in an interview.