According to the Huffington Post, this election season is unprecedented for the LGBTQ community, with 244 candidates who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer running for office.
One of the most predominate game-changers is Christine Hallquist, who “won the Democratic primary in Vermont and became the nation’s first openly transgender candidate for governor backed by a national party.” Joining her on this governor-rainbow wave is Lupe Valdez, who is running in Texas, a categorized, typically staunch red state, where she would become the “nation’s first openly lesbian governor” if elected.
Among the other openly LGBTQ candidates running for Congress are Gina Ortiz Jones in Texas, and Chris Pappas in New Hampshire, who could potentially become the first openly lesbian and gay members of Congress, respectively.
The LGBTQ candidates are not the only marginalized wave of people running, though. They are joined by “a wave of women and people of color” as well. It is speculated that this rise in political involvement from women, people of color, and those open in the LGBTQ community is due to the fact that these groups have grown tired of “the nation’s overwhelmingly white and male governors and members of Congress.”
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Great to join House Speaker Mitzi Johnson, House Majority Leader Jill Krowinski, Senator Michael Sirotkin, Gubernatorial Candidate Brenda Siegel, and more for a press conference today on Vermont values. In 2019, we will work together to pass paid family leave and a gradual increase in the minimum wage. Vermont is ready to lead.
However, it may not just be history itself at play here, according to Annise Parker from the LGBTQ Victory Fund. She told the Huffington Post that LGBTQ people “are running like never before because we are tired of the relentless attacks on our equality from this White House.”
President Trump has made multiple decisions that have been unfavored by the LGBTQ community since taking office. He has urged a military ban on transgender members, taken away protections from transgender students, and twice-ignored LGBTQ Pride month, a time of year typically acknowledged by those in office. His first move, however, was selecting Mike Pence to be his Vice President. The former governor of Indiana is well-known for his anti-LGBTQ policies and rhetoric.
While the openly LGBTQ candidates are on the Democratic side only, the increase in potential representation is seen as a win for the government as a whole. These candidates could give a voice to a community and population that has been long underrepresented, and overall increase diversity in a predominately homogeneous institution. Their running at all, though, could pave the way for more openly LGBTQ candidates to follow suit in the elections to come.