What it means a historic number of LGBTQ candidates have won the midterm elections: NPR

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What it means a historic number of LGBTQ candidates have won the midterm elections: NPR
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A record number of openly LGBTQ candidates have won their midterm races in 2022.

Mark Lennihan/AP


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Mark Lennihan/AP

What It Means A Historic Number Of Lgbtq Candidates Have Won The Midterm Elections: Npr

A record number of openly LGBTQ candidates have won their midterm races in 2022.

Mark Lennihan/AP

The 2022 midterm election went down in history with the most wins for openly LGBTQ candidates. At least 340 candidates won their races, breaking the previous record of 336 in 2020. This year also saw 678 LGBTQ candidates – the most ever – on the general election ballot.

Since the Victory Fund organization was founded in 1991, it has supported LGBTQ candidates running for office, from helping to educate people on how to campaign and what to do. to do after winning, or to provide a network of other elected LGBTQ people to learn from.

This election, the fund has endorsed more than 500 candidates, Victory Vice President of Political Programs Sean Meloy told NPR. The maximum he had previously approved was around 300.

“Normally, when someone enters [office], they’re not going up the ladder afterwards,” he said of the LGBTQ community. “They’re going to be like, ‘Hey, who’s next? Who will replace me? Who else can I ask to join me? I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we have more LGBTQ candidates than ever when we have the most LGBTQ people in office,” a number he says is just over 1,000.

This year, many underrepresented candidates from the already underrepresented LGBTQ community came forward. “People of color, trans people and non-binary people,” he said. “And in places where we need those voices, and the simple fact that an LGBTQ person comes forward to run – and then hopefully win – helps change hearts and minds.”

There were notable firsts in this election

There were a number of notable firsts among the winners of the midterm reviews. The country elected its first openly lesbian governors, with Maura Healey in Massachusetts and Tina Kotek in Oregon. In Connecticut, Erick Russell became the first black LGBTQ person elected to a statewide office in US history. James Roesener of New Hampshire is now the first trans man ever elected to a US state legislature.

Zooey Zephyr, who ran for the Montana House of Representatives, will be the first openly trans person in the state legislature. She won with almost 80% of the vote, according to Ballotpedia.org.

“I’m still hesitant to call an election historic because the attacks on human rights, education, health care, public lands, unions, etc. seem perpetual,” Zephyr told NPR. “Every election demands our attention because there is always something important worth fighting for, and if we fail to fight to the fullest, there are always groups waiting to take our our rights.”

“I think the surge in attacks against lgbtq people over the past year has been a reminder that lgbtq people need to be in the room where laws are written,” she continued. “Over 300 anti-LGBTQ laws introduced in the last year, more than half of which specifically targeted trans people.”

Zephyr said it wasn’t a cliche, “but representation matters.” Meloy also described the importance of members of the queer community being in the room where decisions are made.

“Until the people of Montana and so many other places see LGBTQ people in power, they’re going to keep beating us, and they’re going to keep going. […] attacking us legislatively,” he said. “We’re just going to be an amorphous enemy, as opposed to a smiling face that sits next to them.

Meloy said their candidates rallied because there’s never been an LGBTQ person to look directly in the eye at someone who, for example, might pass a law that cuts support for the homeless, which are disproportionately LGBTQ youth.

Alaska elected its first three LGBTQ politicians to the state legislature: Ashley Carrick for Home District 35, Jennie Armstrong for Home District 16, and Andrew Gray for Home District 20.

Ashley Carrick, a bisexual woman, told NPR she didn’t show up because she is LGBT, but she is LGBT, and this kind of representation is long overdue in Alaska.

“It’s a perspective I carry with me as I look toward a future for our state where we promote the long-term best interests of Alaska and its people,” she said.

“I’m proud that Alaska has gone from being one of three states that never elected an LGBTQ+ state representative to having three of us elected at once,” Armstrong told NPR. “I feel incredibly encouraged that my fellow Alaskans have supported so many candidates who will fight to protect reproductive health care, repel attacks on LGBTQ+ youth, and support building an inclusive economy where everyone has the opportunity to flourish.”

She also expressed her gratitude for the late state senator Johnny Ellis and honored the sacrifice he made by remaining locked up for decades in the state legislature – a reminder of how acceptance in America has changed.

They are well qualified to represent their constituents

Members of the LGBTQ community are uniquely qualified to represent their constituents, Meloy said.

“We intersect with all the other communities,” he said. “We have millennials, we have scientists, we have union members, we have teachers, and we have people from all age groups and demographics.”

He described that LGBTQ people bring a new and unique angle to help make our government look like the people it’s meant to represent, and their belief in the fundamental right to privacy runs through everything they pursue. .

“They need to know when, you know, when it’s safe for them to be themselves in so many places,” he said. “I think it brings an understanding of their community, and I also think it brings a level of empathy for other people who have been overlooked or actively attacked by the government.”

The road ahead

To achieve fair representation, the United States needs to elect more than 35,000 additional LGBTQ people, according to Victory Fund.

Meloy said Millennials and especially Gen Z are identifying as LGBTQ on levels never seen before. He believes this fact may mean that some of the gap will naturally be filled when younger generations run for office.

When LGBTQ people win elections, more community members follow them, Meloy added. He hopes the election of New Hampshire’s James Roesener, who just became the first trans man ever elected to a state legislature, will inspire other trans men to run for office. He cited the rise in the number of trans women running after Virginia State Delegate Danica Roem won her race in 2017.

“I think that shows it’s possible, doesn’t it? And so many underrepresented people in government — women, youth, people of color, LGBTQ people, people with disabilities — they’re always told, “Oh, you can’t do it. […] because it hasn’t been done,” he said. “So breaking that barrier makes that argument – ​​’No.’ Which is a huge starting point.”

Proof that anti-trans platforms often fail

Erin Reed, a content creator and queer legislature researcher who shares LGBTQ news, noted that not only have many LGBTQ candidates been elected, but many voters have rejected anti-trans sentiments.

“The loss of anti-transgender candidates from the school board level all the way to the state level sends a clear message that basing your candidacy on hate is not a winning strategy,” Reed told NPR. “So many candidates thought they could be counted on beating transgender people for an easy win and they came away disappointed on election night.”

Reed said that won’t stop attacks on transgender people. “I predict 2023 will be the worst year for anti-trans legislation,” Reed said. “But it sends a clear message that voters are unmoved by anti-trans laws.”

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