TV & Radio
Record Number of Gays Elected To Office
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
November 8, 2006 - 10:00 am ET
(Washington) The wave that swept Democrats to victory on Tuesday led to unprecedented success in electing openly gay candidates.
Sixty-seven candidates endorsed by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, an organization that helps LGBT candidates gain office, were elected in national, state and local races.
Some of the victories were historic said Victory Fund president Chuck Wolfe.
"This is the tipping point election for openly gay candidates," said Wolfe.
"We're proving that qualified, well-prepared candidates matched with committed donors means gays and lesbians can move from having a stake in policy to actually making policy. There's no reason to sit on the sidelines with our fingers crossed anymore.”
The 67 winners were among 88 Victory Fund endorsed candidates - the most the organization has ever fielded. Thirty-seven of them were running as openly LGBT for the first time.
Among the winners was Patricia Todd, who will represent District 54 in the Alabama State House. Todd is the first openly gay person ever elected to any office in the state.
Kathy Webb will represent District 37 in the Arkansas State House. She is the first openly gay person ever elected to any office in the state.
Al McAffrey, who will represent District 88 in the Oklahoma State House, is the first openly gay person ever elected to the Oklahoma state legislature.
Jamie Pedersen became the third consecutive openly gay person to be elected to represent District 43 in the Washington State House
Ed Murray, who will represent District 43 in the Washington State Senate, is a former state representative and becomes the first openly gay state senator in Washington history.
Jolie Justus becomes the first openly gay state senator in Missouri history.
Matt McCoy, who becomes the first openly gay candidate ever elected to the Iowa legislature. McCoy, a sitting state senator, came out during his last term.
Henry Fernandez won a seat on the Lawrence Township School Board, making him the first openly gay person ever elected to any office in Indiana.
Ken Keechl won a seat on the Broward County Commission in Florida, beating an appointee of Gov. Jeb Bush.
In Hawaii, Kim Coco Iwamoto won a seat on Hawaii's statewide Board of Education making her the country's highest-elected transgender official.
And, Judge Virginia Linder will join Rives Kistler on the Oregon Supreme Court, making it the first state ever to have two openly gay Supreme Court Justices.
In Minnesota, state Sen. Paul Koering, who did not seek Victory Fund endorsement, won re-election. Koering announced he is gay after voting against a proposed constitutional amendment to prevent gay marriage in the state.
Thirteen states, however, still have no openly LGBT state legislators: Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Wyoming.
National Stonewall Democrats hailed the party sweep of the House.
"Americans have rejected the failed politics that divided our families in the past in favor of new leaders with new priorities," said executive director Jo Wyrick.
"Our members labored with Democrats in precincts across the country to achieve success tonight at the ballot box. We must now use the political victories won today to secure concrete results."
The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network which is working to overturn the ban on gays serving openly in the military also heralded the election results.
“We now know that every co-sponsor of legislation to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ who sought re-election appears to have been successful, with just one outstanding race in Connecticut yet to be decided," said SLDN spokesperson Steve Ralls.
"And we also know this," said Ralls. " Support for lifting the ban did not cause voters to reject any candidate. According to Gallup, nearly 4 out of 5 Americans support gays serving openly in the military. America is ready for change.
But he warned "The new doors that have opened, however, do not necessarily translate into certain, or fast, victory. Much work remains to be done, to educate both new and returning lawmakers."