LGBTQ candidates score big victories on election night

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Democratic candidates made history on Tuesday.

LGBTQ candidates won seats in state legislatures across the country and in Congress on Tuesday, in many cases becoming the first out LGBTQ person to win office in their state.

Seats were won by openly LGBTQ Democratic candidates in Delaware, New York, Colorado, Vermont, and Florida. In Kansas, a transgender candidate is currently ahead in her race, with counting not yet finished as of this writing.

Sarah McBride won her race for the state Senate in Delaware, making her the first openly transgender person elected a state senator in the country. She follows in the footsteps of Virginia Del. Danica Roem, the first openly transgender person to become a state legislator. Roem won reelection in 2019, despite transphobic attack ads that were run against her.

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In 2016, McBride was the first transgender person to speak at the Democratic National Convention. Former Vice President Joe Biden wrote the foreword for her memoir, "Tomorrow Will Be Different: Love, Loss, and the Fight for Trans Equality."

"Thank you, thank you, thank you," McBride tweeted. "I hope tonight shows an LGBTQ kid that our democracy is big enough for them, too."

Ritchie Torres made history when he was elected to represent New York's 15th Congressional District. He and Mondaire Jones, another history-maker, who won New York's 17th Congressional District, will be the first openly gay Black men to win a seats in Congress.

Democratic Colorado state Rep. Brianna Titone, who in 2018 was the first transgender person to be elected in the state, won reelection. Titone reported that her Republican opponent, Vicki Pyne, called to congratulate her on Wednesday morning. She won in spite of a conservative group releasing transphobic social media ads that used her deadname.

Taylor Small, who ran on the slates of both the Progressive Party of Vermont and the Democratic Party, has been projected as the winner in a race for the Vermont House of Representatives. That would make Small the first openly transgender legislator in Vermont.

Stephanie Byers is in the lead in her race for the Kansas state House's 86th District. Byers is on track to be the first out transgender state lawmaker in the state. A member of the Chickasaw Nation, Byers will likely also be the first transgender lawmaker of color elected to office in the entire country, reported PinkNews.

Byers told the Wichita Eagle: "We've made history here. We've done something in Kansas that most people never thought would happen and we did it with really no pushback, by just focusing on the issues."

Michele Rayner-Goolsby, who ran unopposed, won a seat in the Florida state House of Representatives on Tuesday night, making her the first openly queer Black woman to elected to the Florida Legislature.

In August, after she won the Democratic primary, she tweeted: "Our team was led by a Black woman. It was anchored by women and women of color. We won because we defined ourselves for ourselves."

According to a LGBTQ Victory Fund report, a record number of LGBTQ people appeared on ballots this year. The report says there has been a 41% increase in the number of openly LGBTQ people running for office since 2018. Thirty-one percent of the LGBTQ candidates who ran in 2020 were people of color.

As more LGBTQ candidates enter races for political office, polling continues to show public support for LGBTQ equality. In 2019, 61% of Americans said they were in favor of marriage equality, compared to 31% in 2004, according to the Pew Research Center. A poll released last year by the Public Religion Research Institute shows that 69% of Americans support laws that "would protect LGBT people from discrimination in jobs, public accommodations, and housing."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.