The Rainbow Wave of openly LGBTQ candidates who won elections nationwide included an impressive number of historic firsts and groundbreaking victories at the state legislative level (see below). As of November 7th, at 1:00pm ET, 84 openly LGBTQ Victory Fund endorsed candidates won seats across 36 states, including in three states that have never elected openly LGBTQ state legislators before. Only seven states had never elected an openly LGBTQ person to their state legislature, but that number is now four after LGBTQ candidates won in Indiana, Kansas and Nebraska.
“The rainbow wave touched down in state capitals throughout the country on Election Day – with an astounding number of out LGBTQ candidates shattering long-standing political barriers and becoming historic firsts,” said Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund. “We elected state legislative candidates in three states that had never elected openly LGBTQ state legislators before, tripled the number of out trans state legislators, and elected LGBTQ women and people of color in key states. While our attention is often focused on Donald Trump and Congress, it is in our state legislatures where the most horrific attacks on LGBTQ equality are occurring. But personal relationships matter in these legislative chambers and we know out LGBTQ officials significantly influence the votes of their colleagues on equality issues. Voters chose to send out candidates to their state legislatures – and these leaders will be game changers.”
Among the historic state legislative storylines:
Only Four Remaining States Never Elected an Openly LGBTQ State Legislator
Three of the seven states that never elected an openly state legislator did so on Election Day: Indiana, Kansas and Nebraska. Now only Alaska, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee have never elected an openly LGBTQ state legislator (state legislative elections were not held in Louisiana or Mississippi this year).
- In Kansas, voters elected two openly LGBTQ state legislative candidates: Susan Ruiz and Brandon Woodard; and
- JD Ford was elected to the Indiana state Senate and Megan Hunt to the Nebraska House of Representatives.
Trans Representation Tripled in State Legislatures
Two openly trans people were elected to the New Hampshire state legislature and results are not final for two additional trans state legislative candidates in Colorado and Montana. With the New Hampshire wins, only three out trans state legislators have ever been elected in the United States (Virginia Delegate Danica Roem, currently serving, was the first out trans person to win and serve in a state legislature last year).
- Gerri Cannon and Lisa Bunker won seats in the New Hampshire House of Representatives; and
- Results are not in yet for Amelia Marquez running for the Montana House of Representatives and Brianna Titone running for the Colorado House of Representatives.
LGBTQ Representation Restored to Two State Legislatures; Saved in Two Others
There were no openly LGBTQ state legislators in thirteen states before Election Day, although six of those states previously had openly LGBTQ state legislators. Of those six, openly LGBTQ people won state legislative seats and restored representation in two of them: Arkansas and West Virginia. No out LGBTQ candidates won in the other four states: Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky and South Dakota.
- Cody Thompson won a seat in the West Virginia House of Delegates and Tippi McCullough to the Arkansas House of Representatives.
Additionally, LGBTQ representation was saved in two states with retiring LGBTQ state legislators by electing other openly LGBTQ state legislators on Election Night: Alabama and Utah.
- Neil Rafferty won in Alabama and became the first openly gay man elected to the Alabama state legislature and Derek Kitchen won a seat in the Utah state Senate.
Historic Firsts for Diverse Candidates in State Legislatures Throughout the Nation
Beyond the above candidates, LGBTQ people shattered lavender ceilings in state legislative races across the country, becoming historic firsts in their states. The victorious candidates were the most diverse slate of LGBTQ state legislative candidates in history.
- Gabriel Acevero is the first openly gay man of Afro-Latino descent elected to the Maryland General Assembly;
- Nickie Antonio is the first openly LGBTQ person elected to the Ohio state Senate;
- Sonya Jaquez Lewis is the first openly LGBTQ Latina elected to the Colorado state legislature (Rochelle Galindo can join her in that distinction but her race is currently too close to call);
- Shevrin Jones is the first openly LGBTQ African American elected to the Florida state legislature (he previously served three terms but came out earlier this year);
- Malcolm Kenyatta is the first openly LGBTQ person of color elected to the Pennsylvania state legislature;
- Jeremy Moss is the first LGBTQ person elected to the Michigan state Senate;
- Lamont Robinson is the first LGBTQ person of color elected to the Illinois General Assembly;
- Mary Washington is the first openly lesbian woman elected to the Maryland state Senate; and
- Jennifer Webb is the first LGBTQ woman elected to the Florida state legislature