Lori Lightfoot’s landslide win to become Chicago’s mayor, and Pete Buttigieg’s historic campaign for for president with husband Chasten close by his side represent incredible progress for openly LGBT+ politicians.
“The real news is not that openly gay candidates are successful, but that being openly gay has become irrelevant,” said Richard Socarides, a former Clinton White House adviser on gay issues. “Here are two people with fresh ideas and a new vision for the future,” Socarides said. “Voters don’t care about their sexual orientation. That’s a sea change.”
The first openly LGBT+ State Representative, Tammy Baldwin, was not elected until 1998. Today, there are eight LGBT+ members of the House, and two in the Senate. The 2018 election saw a rainbow wave across the nation, from local government, to state legislature, to Congress.
Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, suggested that LGBT+ candidates might have particular strengths.
“They may be more likely to empathize with others who have experienced discrimination or obstacles,” said Minter. “They may also be more likely to cherish the opportunity to run for office and serve, something other politicians may take for granted.”
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