80 LGBTQ Candidates Won on Election Day, Making History for an Odd Year

From Danica Roem to N.J. Akbar, big wins for queer contenders forecasts an unprecedented 2020.

Get ready for 2020. If Tuesday night was any indicator, LGBTQ candidates are winning like never before.

A record-shattering 80 LGBTQ candidates won their races on Tuesday, November 5, making it the biggest, odd-numbered election year for queer political hopefuls yet, according to political organization the LGBTQ Victory Fund.

“From state legislatures to city councils to school boards, LGBTQ candidates are winning in regions and in numbers unimaginable even a decade ago,’ said the organization’s president, Annise Parker, in a statement. “LGBTQ candidates won in battleground districts within battleground states.”

Six out trans candidates claimed victory Tuesday, among them Virginia Delegate Danica Roem who made history as the first trans person re-elected to a state legislature.

Roem, who became the first out trans person elected to a state legislature in 2017, beat Republican challenger Kelly McGinn by using transphobic attacks against her to mobilize her supporters. In March of this year, vehemently anti-LGBTQ group Westboro Baptist Church announced plans to protest Roem. She raised more than $16,000 in less than 12 hours in response.

Roem’s victory Tuesday is coupled with the re-election of four other LGBTQ lawmakers in the state. Delegates Dawn Adams, Mark Sickles, Mark Levine, and Sen. Adam Ebbin all won their bids to remain in office, helping to push the legislature from red to blue.

LGBTQ organizations organizations are eager to capitalize on the new Democratic majority in Virginia to advance civil rights legislation.

“Tonight’s election results send a powerful message that Virginians support a bold, progressive vision for the future of the Commonwealth,” said HRC President Alphonso David in a statement. “For far too long, anti-LGBTQ politicians have had a chokehold on Virginia’s legislative process and blocked efforts to pass statewide LGBTQ non-discrimination protections, sowing hate and division while putting the lives and livelihoods of LGBTQ Virginians at risk.”

Notable on Tuesday was also the election of N.J. Akbar, among the very first out LGBTQ Muslims elected in the country. Akbar claimed victory for a board of education seat in Ohio.

In total, 105 of the Victory Fund’s 176 endorsed LGBTQ candidates have won this year (29 won earlier in the year). More are headed for runoffs, while others are in races that weren’t called as of Tuesday night. Overall, six out trans candidates won their elections Tuesday, bringing the total of trans elected officials to 23, the Victory Fund reports.

Even in races without LGBTQ candidates, LGBTQ equality won big. Democrat Andy Beshear ousted Republican Governor Matt Bevin’s whose campaign was considered a test case in whether anti-trans messaging could mobilize voters in 2020. As The New York Times reported, Bevin’s campaign ran attack ads on Beshear demonizing his pro-LGBTQ views by smearing trans kids who want to compete in sports.

“For months, anti-equality activists have utilized an outdated playbook attempting to paint LGBTQ equality as a wedge issue,” the HRC said in a statement. “But in reality, they have failed to realize the ground has shifted underneath them across the country.”

Those wins have LGBTQ advocates deeply optimistic about 2020. More than 720 out LGBTQ candidates ran for office in 2018, and more than 150 of them claimed victory in what the press dubbed a “Rainbow Tsunami.” According to the Victory Fund, there are currently 765 openly LGBTQ elected officials nationwide.

Parker had already predicted historic wins for LGBTQ candidates next November.

“2020 is going to be even more,” Parker previously told NewNowNext, who says LGBTQ candidates in state and local races have already kicked off their campaigns at a pace that signals unprecedented enthusiasm. “Success breeds success.”

See all the results from the LGBTQ Victory Fund here.

LGBTQ Victory Fund Breakdown of Candidate Victories:

Gender Identity

– 28 women
– 46 men
– 5 trans women
– 1 qenderqueer/non-binary

Sexual Orientation

– 7 bisexual
– 46 gay
– 20 lesbian
– 1 pansexual
– 6 queer

Position Level

– 4 for mayor
– 5 for state legislature
– 70 for local office
– 1 for judicial positions

Incumbency

– 42 incumbents
– 38 non-incumbents

Party Affiliation

– 74 Democrats
– 1 Republican
– 1 Independent
– 4 unaffiliated or unknown

State Equality Levels (as defined by Movement Advancement Project)

– High-equality states: 31
– Medium-equality states: 17
– Low-equality states: 31
– Negative-equality states: 1

Kate Sosin is an award-winning, trans-identified news and investigative reporter.
@shoeleatherkate