LGBTQ Community Rising as Mid-Term Elections Approach
Making history on Tuesday night, Christine Hallquist is the first transgender women to run for governor, winning the Democratic nomination and set to take on current governor Phil Smith.
Called the “Rainbow Wave” by The New York Times, a record number of LGBTQ candidates are emerging and running for office.
According to the Victory Institute, as of June 2018, 559 out of 520,000 elected positions in the United States are openly gay. This equates to approximately 0.1% positions nationwide.
In the upcoming election, more transgender women than ever are running for election positions in the United States, but they are not the first. In 2017, Andrea Jenkins became the first transgender black women elected to public office in the United States, being elected to the Minneapolis City Council. In the same year, Virginia’s Danica Roem became the first openly transgender person to serve in the U.S. state legislature. Roem defeated 11-term incumbent Bob Marshall last November.
Roem tweeted congratulations to Hallquist, encouraging the possibility of defeating an incumbent.
Congratulations, @christineforvt on winning your primary.
If anyone tells you the Republican incumbent is too entrenched for you to defeat in the general election… yeah, about that.
Go win. https://t.co/dporEEzbw0
— Danica Roem (@pwcdanica) August 15, 2018
In a post-victory statement, Andrea Jenkins acknowledged her own historic win stating, “As an out African-American trans-identified woman, I know first-hand the feeling of being marginalized, left out, thrown under the bus. Those days are over. We don’t just want a seat at the table — we want to set the table”
Gina Ortiz Jones is also striving to make history. Running against two-time Republican incumbent Will Hurd in Texas’s 23rd Congressional District, Jones may become the first women, first out lesbian, first Iraq veteran, and first Filipino-American to serve as a congresswomen in Texas.
While working in the Executive Office of the President, Jones saw the upcoming policies as harmful to the country at large and decided to leave. Now running against the people she once worked for, her platform includes improving national security, economy, and healthcare.
Despite the historic amount of LGBTQ candidates running for elected positions in the US, there is still backlash against some candidates.
In Mississippi, Michael Aycox ran for the state’s third Congressional district seat. While it was a historic run as the first gay congressional candidate in the state’s history, Aycox still faced backlash. “I had 17 death threats,” he said. “My community respects me, but they’re going to stand with their religious beliefs every day. Religious beliefs are the governing framework for this state.”
While there is a historic amount of LGBTQ candidates running for elected positions, the question remains as to whether or not these candidates can win their positions and make change in their communities.