This week at least 53 out and proud members of the LGBT community were elected to public office all over the United States. In offices ranging from school boards to state assemblies, over 70% of the candidates endorsed by the Victory Fund were successful in Tuesday’s elections. While we can be grateful that so many voters are increasingly finding the sexual orientation of their candidates a non-issue, the true heroes are the candidates who put themselves out there.
What is truly heartening is that the winners were from all over the country, including places not renowned for their progressive politics like Charlotte, NC and Missoula, MT. They won by being strong candidates, representing the breadth of issues their consituents care about. (The new mayor of Holyoke, MA, for example, 22-year-old Alex Morse, is a gay man who primarily campainged as an opponent of casinos.) The very fact of their visibility in their communities helps shape the perceptions that their constituents hold, breaking down stereotypes and making it harder to view the LGBT community as some monolithic “other.” Visibility is power, and these candidates, successful and unsuccessful, deserve our thanks for being visible. Given the ugly, intrusive nature of 21st Century campaigning, they risked potentially nasty personal attacks to pursue their goals of public service. Their victories are shared by us all, moving our community forward. The hypocritical irony of the political system is not lost. These wonderful newly elected civil servants work in a system that denies them their civil rights!
For more information on the results and the amazing array of winners, visit GayPolitics.