The Future of Equality
Victory Fund propels “rainbow wave”
By Jessie Wagoner
The 2018 election was a historic one for the LGBTQ community with 160 LGBTQ candidates at all levels of government elected to office on November 8th.
These candidates were all backed by Victory Fund, an organization that supports and endorses LGBTQ candidates. Founded in 1991 by LGBTQ activists and donors, Victory Fund works to change the face and voice of America’s politics and achieve equality for LGBTQ Americans by increasing the number of openly LGBTQ officials at all levels of government.
When Victory Fund was founded there were less than 50 openly LGBTQ elected officials across America at any level of government. With the final votes counted in the 2018 election, a total of 160 Victory Fund endorsed LGBTQ candidates won their races, more than tripling LGBTQ representation.
“From the U.S. Congress to governors’ mansions to state legislatures and city councils, we are making historic inroads and growing our political power in ways unimaginable even a few years ago,” said Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund. “An unprecedented number of LGBTQ candidates ran this year, fueled by attacks on our equality from the federal government and state legislatures, but driven by a desire to better the lives of all constituents regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. We shattered lavender ceilings, achieved historic firsts and brought more LGBTQ representation to legislative bodies across the nation, which will help push equality forward.”
Nearly three decades after it launched, Victory Fund now includes a network of supporters who pledge to support LGBTQ candidates endorsed by the organization. All endorsed candidates are featured on the organization’s website and some endorsed candidates have access to campaign fundraising and communication support to assist their campaign. During the 2018 election cycle, Victory Fund invested more than $2 million in its endorsed LGBTQ candidates.
At the national level, eight openly LGBTQ candidates have won their races for the U.S. House and one is still too close to call – ensuring a historic number of openly LGBTQ candidates in the U.S. Congress next year. Three of the LGBTQ candidates won seats currently held by Republicans, one won in a key swing district held by a retiring Democrat, and four were incumbents.
“We needed more LGBTQ candidates not just because our community needs us, but because America needs us,” Parker said. “These values-driven leaders are ready to fight for the issues that matter most to their constituents and they will lead with solutions, not the divisiveness that characterizes too much of our politics right now. And these victories will inspire more LGBTQ leaders to run for office in coming elections – our representation in government will continue to grow.”
Ready to Lead
This LGBTQ caucus is already taking action. More than 150 openly LGBTQ elected officials and newly elected officials from across the nation called on the incoming U.S. Congress to act on four key initiatives related to LGBTQ equality. Drafted after a closed-door convening of LGBTQ elected officials at LGBTQ Victory Institute’s International LGBTQ Leaders Conference in November, the letter calls on Congress to:
- Pass The Equality Act to expand non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity;
- Reduce HIV/AIDS by forming an advisory commission, advocating a “Getting to Zero” goal, and taking proactive measures to address disparities in communities of color;
- Protect trans people from anti-trans Trump administration policies and other measures; and
- Improve LGBTQ rights globally by supporting asylum claims and ensuring LGBTQ rights is a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy.
As the number of LGBTQ elected officials increases so does equality for the entire community, and the new class is already making moves to insure equal rights and access for all. Who wouldn’t vote for that?
Learn more about Victory Fund at victoryfund.org.
Tammy Baldwin (Senator, Wisconsin)
Tammy Baldwin, who was first elected as a Wisconsin Senator in 2012, is the first openly LGBTQ member of the Senate and Wisconsin’s first female senator.
Kate Brown (Governor, Oregon)
Governor Kate Brown of Oregon is the nation’s first openly LGBTQ governor.
Angie Craig (Congresswoman-elect, Minnesota)
Elected to represent Minnesota’s Second District, Angie Craig will be the first openly LGBTQ person in the House of Representatives from Minnesota and the first LGBTQ mother in Congress.
Sharice Davids (Congresswoman-elect, Kansas)
She will be the first openly lesbian congressional representative from Kansas and one of two Native American women elected to Congress for the first time in history.
Maura Healey (Attorney General, Massachusetts)
Maura Healey, the Attorney General of Massachusetts, became the first openly LGBTQ state attorney general in the US when she was elected in 2015.
Dana Nessel (Attorney General-elect, Michigan)
Dana Nessel will be the second openly LGBT state attorney general in the US.
Chris Pappas (Congressman-elect, New Hampshire)
Representing the First District of New Hampshire, Chris Pappas will be the state’s first openly LGBTQ person elected to Congress.
Jared Polis (Governor-elect, Colorado)
Jared Polis, elected to serve as Governor of Colorado, will be the first openly gay man to be a governor in the US.
Kyrsten Sinema (Senator-elect, Arizona)
Kyrsten Sinema has been elected to serve as a Senator from Arizona, and she will be the first openly bisexual member of Congress.
Mark Takano (Congressman, California)
Mark Takano is the Representative for California’s 41st District. He became the first openly gay person of color elected to Congress, and he is still the only openly gay person of color in Congress.
Joshua Tenorio (Lieutenant Governor-elect, Guam)
Joshua Tenorio was elected Lieutenant Governor of Guam, and he will be the first openly LGBTQ executive of Guam.