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Alaska Elects Its First Out State Legislators

Carrick Armstrong Gray
Photos courtesy of the subjects

Jennie Armstrong, Ashley Carrick, and Andrew Gray have broken a lavender ceiling.

From left: Ashley Carrick, Jennie Armstrong, and Andrew Gray

Alaska has elected its first out state legislators.

Jennie Armstrong, a pansexual woman; and Andrew Gray, a gay man; and Ashley Carrick, a bisexual woman, have won their races for the Alaska House of Representatives. All are Democrats, Armstrong and Gray from Anchorage, Carrick from Fairbanks.

Armstrong prevailed over Republican Liz Vazquez in House District 16, while Gray bested two Republicans and a Libertarian in District 20, and Carrick beat two Republicans and a Constitution Party member in District 35. Under Alaska's voting system, up to four candidates can run in a general election. Lyn Franks, a lesbian Democrat running in District 18 in Anchorage, appears to have finished out of the running.

Alaska is one of four states that had no out members in their legislatures going into Tuesday's election, the others being Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Dakota. Kameron Nelson, a gay man, won his race for South Dakota House, restoring LGBTQ+ representation there (the state had a bisexual woman senator several years ago). Alaska has never had an out state lawmaker, although a gay man, Johnny Ellis, served in the closet for many years as both a representative and senator and came out after leaving office.

The LGBTQ Victory Fund had endorsed Armstrong and Gray. "It is no coincidence that in the wake of a historic wave of anti-LGBTQ laws introduced in state legislatures across the country -- including in Alaska -- a record number of LGBTQ candidates are running for state legislatures," said a statement from Victory Fund President and CEO Annise Parker. "Alaskans are ready for the change Jennifer and Andrew will bring to Juneau because they know the status quo is not working. In the coming months, state legislatures will determine the future of marriage equality and abortion rights. We are confident pro-equality, pro-choice leaders like Jennie and Andrew will fight tooth and nail on behalf of our community."

Armstrong's eligibility to serve, however, is being challenged in a lawsuit. The suit, filed by a group of Anchorage voters, alleges that she didn't live in the state for the required three years before filing to run for office.

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