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LGBTQ+ Groups Celebrate 'Rainbow Wave' of Queer Candidate Victories

Maura Healey of Massachusetts
Photo by Joesph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images

More than 430 out LGBTQ+ candidates won their elections in the 2022 midterms.

The expected red wave may have only hit certain parts of the U.S., but a rainbow wave seems to have swept across the country.

At least 436 LGBTQ+ candidates won their elections in the 2022 midterms, the LGBTQ Victory Institute, an organization that supports queer elected officials, reported on Thursday. The previous record in 2020 saw 336 out candidates win.

The organization estimates that around 1,065 LGBTQ+ people ran for office in this election, which is a record number.

Tuesday's election also made history as the first time that LGBTQ+ candidates were on ballots in every state. California had the most out candidates of any state, with 178, while Mississippi was last among the 50 states, with one. In addition to out candidates in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, there were known LGBTQ+ candidates in the territories of Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Annise Parker, president and CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, said in a statement Wednesday that attacks on LGBTQ+ rights in recent years "backfired and motivated more LGBTQ people to run and win than ever before."

Parker added, "[Tuesday's] Rainbow Wave is a clear rebuke to the increased homophobia and transphobia sweeping our communities -- and proves voters want to elect qualified LGBTQ leaders. With so much at stake this election, from the future of marriage equality to abortion, LGBTQ candidates' grit and exceptional grassroots support is paying off."

Notable wins of the night include Maura Healey of Massachusetts becoming the first lesbian governor elected in the U.S. with Tina Kotek of Oregon becoming the second only hours later, Becca Balint becoming the first LGBTQ+ person to represent Vermont in Congress, James Roesener of New Hampshire being elected the first trans man elected to a state legislature, and Erick Russell becoming the first gay Black man to win statewide office after being elected Connecticut treasurer.

"We saw record-shattering numbers of LGBTQ+ voters and Gen Z voters turn out, and we saw LGBTQ+ candidates secure historic wins -- including the first openly lesbian governors and more openly LGBTQ+ people elected and reelected to the U.S. Congress than ever, ensuring that the next Congress will have more LGBTQ+ representation than ever before," said Joni Madison, the interim president of the Human Rights Campaign.

LGBTQ+ groups also called for continued engagement from LGBTQ+ voters and LGBTQ+ rights supporters.

"Now is the time to redouble our efforts, with our eyes and actions toward imminent run-off elections and the road to 2024," said Kierra Johnson, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund. "We must inspire and grow the participation of fair-minded voters especially in places where we have seen aggressive tactics to silence and disempower our communities."

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