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The U.S. Will Now Have 1,000 Out Elected Officials in Historic First

Christopher Coburn and Thu Nguyen
From left: Successful out candidates include Christopher Coburn and Thu Nguyen

Victories in Tuesday's election will push the number over that mark when all the winners take office, and the candidates represent the diversity of the LGBTQ+ population.

With more than 80 out LGBTQ+ candidates winning elections Tuesday, when they are sworn in, for the first time there will be more than 1,000 out elected officials in the U.S.

The number currently stands at 997, but 53 of those people did not run for reelection, according to the LGBTQ Victory Fund, which works to elect out candidates. However, 83 of the 131 candidates endorsed by Victory Fund in Tuesday's races have won so far, assuring that the number will go above 1,000 when everyone takes office. And the winners are a diverse group.

Among the key victories:

In Virginia, three LGBTQ+ members of the House of Delegates, all Democrats, have won reelection -- transgender woman Danica Roem, the longest-serving trans elected official in the U.S.; gay man Mark Sickles; and lesbian Dawn Adams. Adams's race had been undecided Tuesday night, but she was declared the winner Wednesday. The Democrats are trying to hang on to their slight majority in the House, where all seats were up for election Tuesday.

In New York City, a record six out candidates were elected to the City Council. Crystal Hudson, a queer woman elected from a Brooklyn district, and Kristin Richardson Jordan, a lesbian elected from Manhattan's Harlem neighborhood, will be the first Black women from the LGBTQ+ community on the council. White lesbian Lynn Schulman and queer Latina Tiffany Caban were the first women from the community elected to any public office from Queens. Chi Osse, a Black gay man from Brooklyn, is, at 23, the youngest person ever elected to the council, while white gay man Erik Bottcher will preserve LGBTQ+ representation in his district in Manhattan's Greenwich Village area, home to the Stonewall Inn.

Detroit and Cleveland, which have had gay men on their City Councils, elected their first out queer women to the bodies -- in Detroit, Gabriela Santiago-Romero, and in Cleveland, Rebecca Maurer. Santiago-Romero is the first Latina from the LGBTQ+ community to be elected in the state of Michigan. Also in Cleveland, Kerry McCormack, a gay man, was reelected to the City Council.

Transgender man Dion Manley became the first out trans person elected in Ohio by winning an at-large seat on the Gahanna-Jefferson City Schools Board in the suburbs around Columbus. There were just five other trans men in elected office around the nation; one of them, Phillipe Cunningham of the Minneapolis City Council, lost his bid for reelection Tuesday.

Three nonincumbent nonbinary candidates and one incumbent won election; when they take office, they will increase the number of nonbinary elected officials nationwide from 11 to 14. Xander Orenstein won a seat on the Allegheny County Magisterial District Court in Pennsylvania, becoming the first nonbinary person elected to a judicial position in the United States. Thu Nguyen won their race for Worcester City Council to become the first nonbinary person ever elected in Massachusetts. Stanley Martin won their race for the Rochester City Council in New York to become the first nonbinary person to serve in that body, and Sarah Salem won reelection to the Poughkeepsie City Council, also in New York. Martin is also one of the first Black LGBTQ+ members of the Rochester council.

Liliana Bakhtiari is on track to win their election for the Atlanta City Council, becoming the first out LGBTQ+ Muslim ever elected in Georgia and the only out nonbinary person serving on the council of a top 50 U.S. city. As of Wednesday afternoon, Bakhtiari had won approximately 50 percent of the vote in a five-way race with all precincts reporting. However, the race has not been called and could go to a runoff if Bakhtiari's vote count dips beneath 50 percent.

Another out candidate for the Atlanta council, Keisha Sean Waites, is already headed for a runoff. She is a lesbian and would be the first Black LGBTQ+ person on the council. Alex Wan, a gay man who served on the council from 2010 to 2017, was elected to a new term Tuesday, restoring LGBTQ+ Asian-American representation to the body.

Christopher Coburn, a queer man, was elected to the Bozeman City Commission in Montana, making him the first Black member of the LGBTQ+ community to be elected in that state. Reggie Harris became the first Black out gay man elected to the Cincinnati City Council. Darin Mano became the first Asian-American out LGBTQ+ person elected to the Salt Lake City Council and Alejandro Puy became the first Latinx out LGBTQ+ person elected to the body; both are gay men, and now four of the six members of the council are from the LGBTQ+ community, out of six LGBTQ+ elected officials in Utah overall. Dontae Payne, who is gay, became the first Black man elected to the Olympia, Wash., City Council.

A notable reelection was that of Andrea Jenkins, a Black transgender woman, to the Minneapolis City Council. Jenkins, who in 2017 became the first Black trans woman elected anywhere in the U.S., has been focused on addressing systemic racism and police reform since the death of Black man George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police last year. While voters rejected a proposal to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department and replace it with a new Department of Public Safety, reforms are still expected, and Jenkins said that will be a top priority for her.

While most out candidates ran as Democrats or in nonpartisan races, Don Guardian, a gay Republican, ran for New Jersey Assembly and won, restoring LGBTQ+ representation to that body. Guardian, a former mayor of Atlantic City, won a seat from the Second Legislative District.

There were some losses too. Tyler Titus, who is genderqueer and nonbinary, Wednesday conceded the race for county executive in Erie County, Pa. Titus, a Democrat, lost to Republican Brenton Davis by less than 3,000 votes. Titus released this statement on Twitter:

Victory Fund President and CEO Annise Parker released a statement celebrating the victories and looking ahead to 2022. "LGBTQ candidates across the country had a very successful Election Night, and when they take office, we will have more than 1000 out elected officials serving for the first time," she said. "These victories for down-ballot candidates are critical, because local officials are best-positioned to change hearts and minds -- as well as policies and legislation. Although the national media spotlight is focused on politics in Washington, D.C., it is state and local leaders like the ones who won on Election Night that most impact the daily lives of residents.

"While we shattered lavender ceilings in many cities and states, key losses for pro-equality candidates and the continued barrage of anti-LGBTQ bills must be a wake-up call for LGBTQ people and allies. The 2022 election cycle begins now, and the anti-LGBTQ attacks and fights may be more brutal than ever. LGBTQ candidates could determine whether pro-equality majorities are maintained in Congress and in state legislatures throughout the country in 2022. Victory Fund is already at work on these races, and we call on our community to join us."

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