This article was published on November 16th, 2020
In 2020, the LGBTQ+ community made waves like never seen before as candidates running for office across the United States. In fact, there were more people in the queer community in races than ever before – at least 1,006! This incredible number represented a 41% increase from the 2018 midterms, according to research done by the LGBTQ Victory Fund. These are huge numbers considering that only 0.17% of elected officials in the country are members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Of course, we did not win every race, but the most important thing was that we were contenders, and now HomoCulture breaks down some of the important races and what they signify for the future of the country, and possibly the world.
The Rundown, By State
Delaware was arguably the biggest story of the 2020 elections for the community with Democrat Sarah McBride making history as the first openly transgender person to serve in a state Senate. With the win, she becomes the highest-ranking transgender elected official in America and a new role model on the scene. Before McBride’s historic win, Virginian Danica Roem was the highest-ranking transgender person in office with her win in the Virginia House of Delegates in 2017. Roem won re-election in 2019. Other transgender women in office currently include Taylor Smalls of Vermont and Stephanie Byers of Kansas, both of which won state-level races last Tuesday.
Before last Tuesday, only Hawaii and South Dakota had never had LGBTQ+ elected officials at any level of government. That changed this election cycle, however, with an upset by Adrian Tam over Republican Nicholas Ochs. The victory made Tam Hawaii’s first openly LGBTQ+ elected official.
Georgia was on everyone’s minds last week, and in more ways than one! Not only did Stacey Abrams prove that she has the moxie and might to move mountains and votes in the historically red state, but come January, Democrats will be battling for control of both the House and Senate with contests for Senate that will determine if Republican Senator Kelly Leoffler’s ban of transgender girls form playing school sports will hold up. Her competitor and LGBTQ+ ally, Reverend Raphael Warnock, has committed himself to the community and pledged to fight for them, noting that “no one is free until we are all free.”
What the Future Holds
Acceptance of members of the LGBTQ+ community continues to grow overall, with 70% of Americans believing that transgender people should also be protected from discrimination, and an equal percentage in support of marriage equality. This has led to more members of the community running for office with the support of allies – and winning. With these wins comes better representation politically for LGBTQ+ Americans so that they are able to maintain the rights they have fought for and won over the past four years.
Since Trump’s time in office, there have been several measures executed against the queer community, including his weakening of trans-inclusive protections in schools, the attempt to remove LGTBQ+ protections in health care, and allowing homeless shelters to refuse transgender people.
In 2021, the fight continues to protect marriage equality as well, with the addition of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court and in early October, Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito suggesting that the 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges be overturned, which would thus make same-sex marriage illegal.
But with Joseph Biden as President-Elect and Democrats still in control of the House, hope springs eternal. Stay tuned to HomoCulture for the latest political news on the LGBTQ+ community.