SACRAMENTO, Calif. ( Associated Press) — As LGBTQ candidates and their supporters celebrate several landmark victories across the country in this year’s midterm elections, California quietly won its victory: At least 10% of the state’s legislators publicly identify as LGBTQ. which is believed to be a first in any American legislature.
The California congressman, all Democrats, is proud of his success, but says it highlights the hard work that still needs to be done in his state and the rest of the country, such as reducing the damage caused by the law. to manage. gay” in Florida, which prohibits teaching certain classes on sexual orientation and gender identity, or laws in other states that bar transgender students from participating in sports activities or deny youth gender-affirming health care.
That feat grew even more after Saturday night’s shooting at a gay nightclub in Colorado left five people dead and several others injured. The suspect was charged with murder and hate crimes. Colorado Governor Jared Polis, who was just re-elected to a second term, was the first openly gay man elected to the governor’s office when he won in 2018.
“As far as LGBTQ people are concerned, we are on two paths: one of them is that socially we are winning. In general, people have no problem with LGBTQ people, they support us. , accept us and are willing to vote for LGBTQ candidates,” Scott Weiner, a California state senator and member of the LGBTQ Caucus, said Monday.
However, he added that, “although we are winning the battle in society at large, there is a dangerous minority of very vocal extremists who relentlessly attack and denigrate our community.”
At least 519 outspoken LGBTQ candidates have won elected office this year, ranging from school boards to Congress, said Albert Fujii, press secretary for the LGBTQ Victory Fund, an organization dedicated to promoting LGBTQ candidates. That’s a record, well above 2020, when 336 LGBTQ candidates won, according to the group, which along with Equality California — another activist body — calculated that California is the first state to pass the 10% threshold.
Eight of the 12 current or soon-to-be members of the California Legislature are already in the LGBTQ Caucus, including the Senate Leader and three other senators whose terms expire in 2024. The four members of the Assembly were re-elected in November. 8, and they are joined by two new members of the Assembly and two new senators, with the ranks of the bench increasing by 50%. The Associated Press has not yet reported the results of one remaining race that could add another LGBTQ lawmaker.
On December 5, the MLAs will take oath for the new term. The two chambers consist of 120 Congressmen.
The federal census showed that 9.1% of Californians say they are LGBTQ – compared to 7.9% nationwide – so the Legislature will reach roughly parity in sexual orientation and gender identity. The Legislature has not achieved parity on gender or race and ethnicity, according to data from the California State Library.
According to the institute, New Hampshire and Vermont have higher numbers of LGBTQ legislators, but their legislatures are larger than California’s and therefore have not met the 10% threshold.
The 2022 election saw several milestones for LGBTQ people, including Cory Jackson, the first black and gay man to serve in the California Legislature, who noted that African Americans—particularly black trans people—are particularly marginalized. are on
Jackson, a member of the Riverside County School Board, said, “I think this is an opportunity to say first and foremost, we are here, we have something to contribute and we can lead and represent with the best “
According to the Human Rights Campaign, Alaska and South Dakota elected their first LGBTQ legislators, and Montana and Minnesota elected their first transgender congressmen. In New Hampshire, Democrat James Rosener, 26, became the first trans man elected to any state legislature in the United States.
He said he was inspired to get behind a bill that would require schools to inform parents of their children’s development of gender identity and expression, which failed to pass. Opponents of such requirements say they invade children’s privacy and put them at risk of abuse at home.
Leah Finke, who was elected in Minnesota, was also motivated by anti-transgender rhetoric.
Finke hopes she’ll be able to ban so-called conversion therapy in Minnesota and, like California, make the state a sanctuary for kids — and their parents — who don’t have access to gender-affirming medical services elsewhere. Is.
“I just thought: ‘It can’t stay like this.’ We should put trans people in these rooms. If we’re going to forfeit our rights, at least they have to look us in the eye while doing so.”
Massachusetts and Oregon elected the first openly lesbian female governors.
Charlotte Perry, a 23-year-old vote organizer in Portland, Oregon, said some youths thanked her for running when she heard Gov.-elect Tina Kotek speak at a campaign event.
Perry said, “With all that’s going on, it’s hard to feel optimistic as a young gay man.”
While newly elected LGBTQ officials are mostly Democrats, at least one gay Republican — George Santos, a supporter of former President Donald Trump — won a seat in the New York House of Representatives after defeating another gay man, also a Democrat.
The rise of LGBTQ legislators contrasts with efforts by some states, led by members of Santos’ party, to limit the influence, visibility and rights of LGBTQ people.
In Tennessee, leaders of the state’s Republican legislative majority said the first bill of the 2023 session would seek to ban gender-affirming health care for minors. Tennessee has only one LGBTQ legislator, Democratic Rep. Torrey Harris.
The state has already banned transgender athletes from participating in girls’ high school sports, and restricted bathrooms to be used by transgender students and staff.
The Human Rights Campaign tracked anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in 23 states this year, saying they have passed in 13: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota , Tennessee, Utah and Louisiana.
In contrast, “as the LGBTQ caucus in the California Legislature has grown, the state has led the nation in passing cutting-edge legislation protecting the civil rights of LGBTQ+ people,” said Samuel Garrett-Pete, a spokesman for Equality California.
Weiner introduced a bill to make California a sanctuary state for transgender youth, a move that has been copied by Democratic lawmakers in other states. He and another legislator worked together in 2019 to increase access to HIV prevention drugs. Other laws proposed by LGBTQ legislators over the years have given foster children rights to gender-affirming health care, and allowed non-binary gender markers to appear on state IDs.
California caucus members said it was too soon to make a concrete plan for new legislation, but Weiner said areas to be considered included employment resources for transgender people; Homelessness and crime among LGBTQ youth, and sexual health services.
Jackson said he is optimistic about the election results, not only for California, but for the entire country.
“Today we have federal senators, we have governors, we actually have trans legislators in this country,” he said. “So in the midst of stories of hate and demonization, you can still see a rainbow of hope in our country.