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Michele Rayner-Goolsby

Michele Rayner-Goolsby

Michele Rayner-Goolsby (born September 25, 1981) is an American politician, civil rights attorney, and social justice advocate. She has served as a member of the Florida House of Representatives since 2020, representing District 70 in PinellasHillsboroughManatee, and Sarasota Counties. She is the first openly queer black woman elected to the Florida Legislature.

Rayner was born and raised in Clearwater, Florida. She attended Florida State University, receiving her B.S. in international affairs and political science in 2003, and M.S. in international affairs in 2006. After graduating from Florida Coastal School of Law in 2011 and being admitted to the Florida Bar, she returned to Clearwater and worked as an assistant public defender in the state’s Sixth Judicial Circuit, and then as a lawyer in private practice. 

Rayner is the lead counsel of her law firm, Civil Liberty Law. She was also the local counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. She is a member of the Fred G. Minnis Sr. Bar Association and Delta Sigma Theta.

In 2020, Rayner ran for the Florida House of Representatives seat vacated by Wengay Newton, who opted to run for the Pinellas County Commission. Rayner raised $116,900 in her campaign, over double that of her nearest competitor. Rayner garnered 31.3% of the vote against three other candidates in the Democratic primary, with second-place finisher Keisha Bell receiving 26.8%. Rayner was elected without opposition in the general election.

Rayner is the first black queer woman elected to Florida’s Legislature. Rayner was endorsed by Equality Florida, the Florida Education Association, Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida, and U.S. Representative Charlie Crist. She was not endorsed by the Stonewall Democrats of Pinellas County. 

The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is a civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and same gender loving (LGBTQ/SGL) people, including people living with HIV/AIDS.