Milestone Victories for LGBTQ Candidates in State and Local Elections Across the Country

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LGBTQ Candidates

Photo: LGBTQ Victory Fund

Tuesday night was election night for state, city, and local positions, as well as for some U.S. Congress seats. Results have been mixed across party lines, but one theme that is apparent is the fact that various LGBTQ candidates nationwide achieved milestone victories.

On the ballots last night, there were 131 LGBTQ candidates running for office who were endorsed by political action committee the LGBTQ Victory Fund and LPAC. Winners thus far run the gamut of identities, positions, and geographic locales. And geography makes some victories exceedingly significant, as they came in states which are highly divided across party lines.

One of the highest-profile LGBTQ winners Tuesday was Danica Roem, an incumbent candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates. Despite Virginia’s flip-flopping between parties lately and a big GOP win in the Governor’s race, Roem, who made history in 2017 by becoming the first out transgender person elected to a state legislature, won her second re-election bid. The victory marks her third overall takedown of overtly anti-transgender opponents. In 2017, she defeated self-described “chief homophobe” Bob Marshall, and on Tuesday, Roem defeated Republican Christopher Stone.

Two other out queer Democratic delegates also won reelection: Dawn Adams and Mark Sickles. In a late-called, tight race, Adams narrowly defeated Republican Mark Earley, Jr. to earn her third term.

In a similarly unpredictable state, Michigan, Gabriela Santiago-Romero made strides for both the queer and Latinx communities, winning a seat on the Detroit City Council. With her victory, Santiago-Romero becomes the first out LGBTQ councilwoman in the city’s history and the first out Latinx woman elected to any office in the state. According to Victory Fund, she is among the 9.8% of LGBTQ candidates this year who are Latinx, one of 15 LGBTQ candidates overall on a ballot in Michigan, and one of 35 out LGBTQ Latinx women nationwide.

In Ohio, long a swing state but dubbed last year by NBC to be officially red, two more LGBTQ candidate victories unfolded. Rebecca Maurer defeated Anthony Brancatelli, a 16-year incumbent, to earn a seat on the Cleveland City Council. She’s the first out LGBTQ woman elected to the council, and becomes one of just 13 out female LGBTQ elected officials throughout Ohio.

In Gahanna, Ohio, Dion Manley won a seat on the Gahanna-Jefferson School District board. Victory Fund reports he’s the first transgender person elected to any office in Ohio, and he joins just five other transgender men serving elected office nationwide, notably amid a time of widespread activism against transgender rights in schools.

One of the largest concentrations of LGBTQ political victories Tuesday night was in a less tenuous but still significant state: New York. A record six LGBTQ candidates won election campaigns for the New York City Council, and nearly all of them break ground in their own ways, too, according to a press release from Victory Fund. Crystal Hudson, of Brooklyn, and Kristin Richardson Jordan, of Harlem, are the first two Black out LGBTQ women elected to the council. Lynn Schulman and Tiffany Cabán are the first out LGBTQ women from Queens to be elected to any public office. Chi Ossé, a queer man, will be the youngest person ever elected to the council, while Erik Bottcher won his uncontested race to represent Council District 3.

“This is a watershed moment for New York – and these LGBTQ candidates are ready to deliver,” said Annise Parker, former Houston mayor and current president and CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, in a press release.

Another watershed LGBTQ victory came in Massachusetts. Thu Nguyen, a non-binary Vietnamese refugee, became the first non-binary person elected to a Worcester City Council seat. They join just nine other individuals as the only current non-binary elected officials in the U.S.

The significance of these victories proves more work is needed, but the increasing representation of lesbian, transgender,  non-binary queer people, and queer people of color.

In a pre-election press release, Parker stressed the importance of the trend: “As our community again faces a barrage of anti-LGBTQ bills at the state and local levels, it is imperative we elect LGBTQ people who can impact the debate and humanize LGBTQ issues for other elected leaders.”

 

 

 

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Amanda Ostuni
Amanda Ostuni
Amanda is a graduate of Northeastern University. She has a B.A. in Journalism with a Minor in Sociology. Her journalistic work spans a variety of publications and topics, but her favorite subjects to cover are pop culture (she’s a television addict!) and sociopolitical issues. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram at @aeostuni.