June marks the beginning of Pride Month, a time to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community. As we reflect on the challenges faced this past year, one undeniable trend emerges: this year is a monumental one for LGBTQ+ candidates. The 2022 midterm election shattered records with an unprecedented number of victories for openly LGBTQ+ individuals. Surpassing the previous benchmark of 336 in 2020, over 400 LGBTQ+ candidates won their respective races, as reported by the LGBTQ+ Victory Fund. Remarkably, for the first time in American history, LGBTQ+ candidates ran for office in every state and the District of Columbia. This historic election cycle not only witnessed a significant increase in transgender, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming candidates but also witnessed the rise of LGBTQ+ candidates of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.
Despite the encouraging “rainbow wave” witnessed in the recent election cycle, the LGBTQ+ community continues to grapple with numerous challenges. We find ourselves amidst a disheartening surge of anti-LGBTQ+ bills in state legislatures, leaving many members of the LGBTQ+ community feeling marginalized and unheard. Alarming data from the American Civil Liberties Union reveals a staggering 491 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced this year alone, doubling the count from the previous year. To combat this alarming trend and ensure equal rights for LGBTQ+ Americans, it is crucial to have representation in the halls of power. DSPolitical is proud to have powered the election of 47 LGBTQ+ candidates and 5 LGBTQ+ candidates elected to the U.S. House during the 2022 elections. In recognition of the increasing presence of LGBTQ+ individuals in positions of governance, we’ve highlighted ten remarkable politicians who are paving the way and making a significant impact this year.
Sharice is among the first two Native American women to serve in Congress and the first LGBTQ+ Native American elected to Congress. Sharice has introduced legislation to improve foster care services and mental health support for at-risk LGBTQ+ youth.
Roem’s electoral victory will make her Virginia’s first out transgender public official and the nation’s only openly transgender state representative. The metal band vocalist hopes her political success will serve as a roadmap for underrepresented groups.
When he was first elected to his position in the California State Assembly, Low made history by achieving several milestones. He became the first Asian American and openly LGBT person to be elected to Campbell’s City Council, the youngest Asian American Mayor in the country, and the youngest Asian American legislator to be elected to the Assembly in state history.
DSPolitical worked with our partners in motivating Democrats to vote in the state of Oregon, helping secure the votes needed to elect Democrat Tina Kotek to the governor’s office. The Governor-elect will be one of the first two openly lesbian governors in the U.S.
Last year, Zephyr became the first openly transgender woman elected to the Montana Legislature, placing her among a record number of transgender lawmakers who began serving across the U.S. Zooey believes that the best way “to fight for social and economic justice is to get into the room where the laws are being written” (Source).
Why it matters: Their wins come amid an increase in anti-LGBTQ+ legislation nationwide, particularly bills targeting transgender rights and gender-affirming health care.
Anthony Vega, a 2022 DSPolitical Ad Grant Recipient, made history with his victory as Lake County Clerk– becoming the first Latino, LGBTQ+ representation in Lake County government.
James Roesener became the nation’s first openly transgender man to win election to a state legislature, the Concord Monitor reports. A 26-year-old Democrat who identifies as bisexual, Roesener joins six other openly trans men serving in elected office and the only one serving in a state legislature, according to a tracker from the LGBTQ+ Victory Institute.
The first openly gay person and the first woman to represent Vermont in Congress. Becca is a fierce advocate for justice and equity, and her values were shaped by her family’s experiences.
In Connecticut, Erick Russel won the race to serve as treasurer, becoming the first-ever Black, LGBTQ+ candidate elected to statewide office in U.S. history.
Democrat Liz Bennett, who identifies as an openly LGBTQ woman, was elected to the Iowa State Senate, District 39. She was elected to her first term in the Iowa Senate after serving four terms in the Iowa House.
The significance of LGBTQ+ representation in politics and leadership roles cannot be overstated. It brings diverse perspectives to policy-making, creates a safer and more accepting society, advocates for LGBTQ+ rights, promotes intersectionality, and inspires future leaders. For example, LGBTQ+ politicians may be more likely to advocate for anti-discrimination laws or policies that protect transgender individuals. By embracing and actively supporting LGBTQ+ representation, governments contribute to the development of an inclusive democracy that upholds the rights and dignity of all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. It is imperative that we persistently strive for equal representation and amplify the voices of the LGBTQ+ community to forge a society that is truly just and equitable for everyone.
Check out Reflections on the International LGBTQ Leaders Conference for a firsthand account from a DSPolitical team member of the impact the Victory Institute’s annual conference had on them and the importance of LGBTQ+ representation in government.