Tuesday night was a record night for LGBTQ politicians seeking elected office. You just need to know where to look.
Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez won last night’s Democratic primary for Texas governor. She’ll be the first openly lesbian woman and Latina nominated by a major party to run in the state’s gubernatorial race. A few hours south, Gina Ortiz-Jones won her Democratic primary for Congress, which would make her the first Filipina-American to serve in Congress as well as the first openly lesbian woman to represent Texas should she win.
These are all historic victories on a single night, and advocates expect more to come. It’s been a record year for LGBTQ candidates seeking elected office, and some of them are even — get ready for it — winning.
Elliot Imse, director of communications at the Victory Fund, an organization with a mission to get LGBTQ candidates elected to public office in races nationwide, says a record number of LGBTQ candidates have chosen to run for public office this year.
“There are more LGBTQ candidates running than ever before this election cycle – and LGBTQ Victory Fund is on-track to endorse more candidates than at anytime in our 27-year history,” Imse says. “The surge in LGBTQ people running for office can largely be attributed to a backlash against the federal government and many state legislatures targeting our community with harmful policies, as well as LGBTQ people seeing the electoral success of LGBTQ candidates in the last few cycles.”
STOP THE PRESSES: Lupe Valdez, an LGBT Latina woman formerly Sheriff of Dallas just secured the Democratic nomination for Governor in Texas. Y’ALL.
— Atima Omara (@atima_omara) May 23, 2018
It’s not just Valdez and Ortez-Jones. Democrat Kristen Sinema is on track to win her primary in Arizona and potentially even a Senate seat, which would make her the first openly bisexual Senator in American history. Danica Roem was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in November, becoming the first openly trans woman to serve in the Virginia legislature. That same night, Tyler Titus won his election and joined the Erie School Board, becoming the first openly transgender person to hold office in Pennsylvania.
The Victory Fund has endorsed 133 candidates so far and plans to endorse 200 by November.
This enthusiasm for government is both new and widespread. The number of candidates running for public office has spiked since Trump’s election, particularly among groups who’ve been underrepresented in government, including women, people of color, and LGBTQ folks.
For the queer community, Trump’s election has had particularly devastating consequences. Yes, Trump did wave an LGBTQ Pride flag upside down during his campaign and sort of lectured his fellow Republicans about being not completely terrible to the LGBTQ community.
His time is office has nonetheless been marked by a series of assaults against the LGBTQ community: whether it’s his transgender military ban, the reversal of the executive order that protected trans students in schools, eliminating LGBTQ people from the census (and consequently, their services), hiding lesbian and bisexual women’s health information from government health websites, or eliminating healthcare protections for the trans community.
No wonder so many in the LGBTQ want to run for office. They want to save what they lost, protect what they still have, and, you know, build something new.
Some of the biggest victories for the LBGTQ community are happening in places you might not imagine, in races that never make national news.
Isme mentioned Tippi McCullough, running for the Arkansas House of Representatives.
“Last night Tippi won a historic primary victory and is now on-track to become the only openly LGBTQ member of the Arkansas state legislature and one of just three openly LGBTQ elected officials in the entire state,” Isme points out. “And Tippi’s story is a powerful one. In 2013, Tippi was fired from the school she taught at for more than a decade just 45 minutes after her wedding ceremony. The school told her that because she married a woman she no longer lived up to the schools ‘moral’ values. The biggest hurdle was Tippi’s primary race – she does not have a GOP opponent in November.”
VICTORY in Arkansas! Tippi McCullough is a teacher who was fired in 2013 for marrying her partner and has been spurred into action ever since. With tonight’s win, Tippi is on track to becoming the only openly LGBTQ woman in the Arkansas State Legislature. Congrats! pic.twitter.com/rFMbdGwTJq
— Victory Fund (@VictoryFund) May 23, 2018
Not all candidates are as lucky as Tippi. Both Valdez and Ortiz-Jones live in very red states. Valdez will be running against a popular incumbent governor. Ortiz-Jones is campaigning against a fairly popular, moderate Republican Congressman, William Hurd.
Still, change is slow. The glass doesn’t crack easily. Right now, it’s just important for members of the LGBTQ community to take a moment and celebrate what victories they have. There’s more of this to come.
Read more here: http://mashable.com/