LGBTQ candidates make history in election

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Sarah McBride

Across the country, including some traditional conservative strongholds, LGBTQ candidates won elected office in the 2020 general election. In addition, a great many of them broke new ground as the first LGBTQ people elected in their state or in their state’s legislative body. As of Thursday night, 188 LGBTQ candidates have won office and 52 races remain undecided.

Sarah McBride will become the first transgender state senator in the country after winning her race in Delaware. “We did it,” McBride said on Twitter. “We won the general election. Thank you, thank you, thank you.” McBride previously made history in 2016 as the first trans person to speak at the Democratic National Convention.

In addition to electing their first trans state senator, Delaware residents also elected their first black lesbian state senator when Marie Pinkney won her election bid. Pinkney is a master level social worker, foster parent, and community advocate.

Two other black LGBTQ women won their elections to state senates, Kim Jackson in Georgia and Tiara Mack in Rhode Island. Jackson will become the first LGBTQ person to serve in the Georgia State Senate.

Jessica Benham became the first LGBTQ woman elected to the Pennsylvania state legislature when she won her race for state representative. Benham is also the first openly autistic woman elected to the PA state legislature.

In New York, Jabari Brisport, who won his state senate race last night, became the first LGBTQ person of color elected to the state legislature there. Of Brisport’s win, Victory Fund President and CEO Annise Parker said in a statement: “His experiences as a Black LGBTQ man will provide an essential perspective that has never been represented in the New York state legislature and will pave the way for a government that is more representative of the people it serves.”

In Kansas, Stephanie Byers made national history by becoming the first out trans person of color elected to a state legislature. Byers won her race in the Kansas state house and will be the state’s first trans legislator.

Also making national history is Mauree Turner, who became the first nonbinary person to win election to a state legislature. Turner won in Oklahoma’s 88th state house district. According to Victory Fund, a record number of genderqueer and nonbinary people — seventeen — ran for office across the country.

In Vermont, Taylor Small won election and will become the first trans state legislator there. Small is the Director of the Health & Wellness program at Pride Center of Vermont.

In Florida, Michele Raynor Goolsby became the first black queer woman elected in the state. “Our team was led by a Black woman,” Goolsby said on Twitter. “It was anchored by women and women of color. We won because we defined ourselves for ourselves.”

Also in Florida, Shevrin Jones became the first Black LGBTQ person elected to the Florida State Senate. To win his primary in August, Jones defeated two anti-LGBTQ opponents and weathered anti-gay attacks, including robotexts highlighting Jones being turned away from donating blood due to the FDA’s ban on men who have sex with men.

In Tennessee, two candidates, Torrey Harris and Eddie Mannis, became the first out LGBTQ people to win seats in the Tennessee state legislature. Harris, a Democrat, will become the state’s first Black gay representative. Mannis is one of the rare LGBTQ Republicans to win elected office. Tennessee was previously one of five states that had never elected an LGBTQ person to their state legislature.

Hawaii state house candidate Adrian Tam won his election and will become the only LGBTQ person in the state’s legislator. Tam defeated Nicholas Ochs, leader of the Hawaii Proud Boys.

Also in local races around the country: Charmaine McGuffey became the first LGBTQ person and first woman elected Sheriff of Hamilton County, Ohio; Jill Rose Quinn became the first trans person to be elected in Illinois after winning a seat on the Cook County Circuit Court; lesbian Paty Baca won her race for district court judge in west Texas; and Todd Gloria was elected as the next mayor of San Diego, California.

In the U.S. Congress, Mondaire Jones and Ritchie Torres, both of New York, won their elections and will become the first Black gay men to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. With Jones and Torres, there will be nine openly LGBTQ members of the U.S. House.

Numerous LGBTQ candidates also won re-election, including Pennsylvania state representatives Malcolm Kenyatta and Brian Sims, U.S. Congress members Angie Craig, Sharice Davids, Chris Pappas, Mark Takano, Mark Pocan and David Cicilline, and candidates in state legislatures across the country.

According to Victory Fund, over 1,000 LGBTQ people ran for office in 2020.