Mike Reedy is a Democrat and is running for State House 63, but he doesn’t consider himself a de rigueur style politician. He is unabashedly grass roots and, while politically liberal, isn’t afraid to be aggressive in pursuit of what he considers to be right. Speaking with him, he presents himself as somewhat of a liberal alpha dog. He is also intensely friendly and almost immediately divulges information about his life with his partner.
“One of the funny things about my partner,” Reedy says, “is that he is a breath of fresh air whenever we go to political functions. When you talk to me it’s all about politics and he would like to talk about anything but politics.”
Reedy held his kick off fundraising on May 26 at the home of Alen Clendenin, first vice-chair of the Florida Democratic party. When asked to give a brief history of himself as a politician, Reedy starts off by pointing out his roots in Florida.
“I was born and raised in Hillsborough County. I am product of our public school system, specifically the magnet program, where I was a musician and an orchestral conductor. I ended up going to USF for conducting.”
Reedy worked as a production coordinator/assistant to conductor Anton Coppola, but when Coppola retired Reedy had a “beautiful transition” into the world of politics.
“I had always been involved in politics. I was the first person in my family to go to college, and the only way I was going to it was via Bright Futures through music education.
It was when Reedy got his real estate licenses he became aware of the inequalities that were present for LGBT citizens.
“We were one of 29 states in which it’s perfectly legal—and still is—to fire someone based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. They can deny housing. A mortgage company may see a couple with a hyphenated last name and could deny them a mortgage that is not based on credit or credentials, but rather based on that they don’t want to provide that service.”
“We are not,” Reedy stresses, “a protected class.”
In order to rectify that, Reedy began working with Equality Florida as a consultant and they retained him full time as their state wide business organizer.
“The work that I do is to educate and work with senior level executives for large businesses, like Fortune 500 companies, as well as small business to update their policies so that they’re fully inclusive. We then take those pro-equality business and we let them tell their stories to the local elected officials. We have been successful in passing more than 36 local ordinances, and now we are shooting for the statewide non-discrimination bill, a.k.a. the Florida Competitive Workforce Act.”
Reedy stresses that his work, which also includes an endorsement from the National Organization of Women, is not invocation of special interest, but of civil rights.
“The thing about civil rights is that you’re not supposed to be able to vote on them; they’re supposed to be rights. Protecting equal rights for women, for LGBT individuals, is something that we need to be doing. You should not be able to be fired for who love. These issues are what I believe to be American values in general. I don’t know why they are polarizing. If work hard and play by the rules, you should be able to get ahead, no matter who you are or who you love.”
For those on the opposite side of the spectrum, Reedy openly invites them to contest him.
“Senator Tammy Baldwin said ‘If you’re not in the room the conversation is about you, but when you’re in the room the conversation is with you.’ I think openly LGBT candidates need to be in the chamber along with 119 other legislators to be able to say ‘I want you to say to my face that I am less of Floridian than you are,’ or that ‘My taxes are as good as yours but my rights aren’t.’ That approach is how we’ve able to successfully change the narrative throughout the country and I think that it’s very important that we have LGBT representation in the house.”