Milestone victories for LGBTQ candidates in US election

The 2020 U.S. election was marked by landmark wins for LBGTQ lawmakers, including the first transgender person elected to a state senate and the first openly gay Black men elected to Congress. Only three states have yet to elect an LGBTQ legislator.

Adam Hunger/AP
Ritchie Torres speaks to the media in New York City, Nov. 3, 2020. Mr. Torres, along with Mondaire Jones, from suburban New York, made history this election as the first openly gay Black men to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Across the nation, LGBTQ candidates achieved milestone victories in Tuesday’s election, including the first transgender person elected to a state Senate, and the first openly gay Black men to win seats in the United States Congress.

The landmark wins came not in only blue but also red states such as Tennessee, where Republican Eddie Mannis, who is gay, and Democrat Torrey Harris, who identifies as bisexual, won seats to become the first openly LGBTQ members of the state legislature.

According to the LGBTQ Victory Fund, which recruits and supports LGBTQ candidates, that leaves only Alaska, Louisiana, and Mississippi as states that have never elected an LGBTQ legislator.

“Torrey and Eddie sent a clear message that LGBTQ candidates can win in a deep red state while being their authentic selves,” said the Victory Fund’s president, former Houston Mayor Annise Parker. “Their presence in the state legislature can dilute the most toxic anti-LGBTQ voices and lead to more inclusive legislation.”

In New York, attorney Mondaire Jones won in a district in the New York City suburbs, and Ritchie Torres, a member of the New York City Council, won in the Bronx, making history as the first gay Black men elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Both are Democrats; Mr. Torres identifies as Afro Latino.

The two “will bring unique perspectives based on lived experiences never before represented in the U.S. Congress,” Ms. Parker said.

With the addition of Mr. Jones and Mr. Torres, there will be nine openly LGBTQ members of the House as of January. The seven incumbents all won their races.

In Delaware, Democrat Sarah McBride won her state Senate race with more than 70% of the vote and will become the first openly transgender state senator in the country.

“It is my hope that a young LGBTQ kid here in Delaware or really anywhere in this country can look at the results and know that our democracy is big enough for them, too,” Ms. McBride said as her victory was confirmed Tuesday night.

Ms. McBride interned at the White House under President Barack Obama and in 2016 became the first openly transgender person to give a speech at a major party convention.

Two other Democrats became the first openly transgender people to win seats in their states’ houses: Taylor Small in Vermont and Stephanie Byers in Kansas.

Ms. Byers, a retired high school band teacher, expressed hope that her victory would encourage other transgender people in conservative Kansas.

“It helps those people who are transgender to reinforce that they are people who matter, they are people who are important and they’re people who can be successful in their lives,” she told The Wichita Eagle.

Before Tuesday’s election, there were four other transgender lawmakers in state legislatures nationwide, according to the Victory Fund.

In Georgia, Democrat Kim Jackson, a lesbian social justice advocate, became the first LGBTQ person to win a seat in the state Senate.

Shevrin Jones, a gay former state representative, accomplished that same feat in Florida’s Senate. And in New York, Jabari Brisport, a gay math teacher, became the first openly LGBTQ person of color elected to the Legislature.

In Oklahoma, Mauree Turner, a Democrat who is Black, Muslim, and identifies as non-binary, won a seat in the state House.

“I have continuously lived a life where folks doubt my voice or the power that I have,” Mx. Turner said. “I wouldn’t have gotten far if I’d let something like that debilitate me.”

There also were some notable losses for LGBTQ candidates.

In Texas, Gina Ortiz Jones, a Democratic former Air Force intelligence officer who is lesbian, had been seen as having a strong chance of winning in a sprawling, 800-mile congressional district that runs from San Antonio to El Paso. The seat had been held by Rep. Will Hurd, the U.S. House’s only Black Republican, who opted not to seek re-election and endorsed Tony Gonzales, the GOP candidate who prevailed on Tuesday.

And in southwestern Michigan’s 6th District, Jon Hoadley, seeking to become the state’s first openly gay congressman, lost to 17-term GOP Rep. Fred Upton.

This story was reported by The Associated Press. Jonathan Mattise in Nashville, Tennessee; Margaret Stafford in Liberty, Missouri; and Sean Murphy in Oklahoma City contributed to this report.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Milestone victories for LGBTQ candidates in US election
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2020/1105/Milestone-victories-for-LGBTQ-candidates-in-US-election
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe