LGBT Community Building Long Term Political Power with Record Number of Viable Candidates

As the Democratic National Convention gets underway, LGBT elected officials and leaders are viewing this election cycle as a unique opportunity to advance equality by supporting LGBT candidates nationwide. US Representatives Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) and Mark Takano (D-CA), former Houston Mayor Annise Parker, and Victory Fund President & CEO Aisha C. Moodie-Mills noted the unprecedented number of LGBT candidates running for office this year, and highlighted new research showing the impact of LGBT lawmakers on policy outcomes and their straight colleagues.

“With a record number of LGBT people running for office and new research showing LGBT lawmakers have significant influence over their straight colleagues, the elections are a real opportunity to make significant strides for LGBT equality,” said Congressman Takano. “When LGBT lawmakers are part of the conversation, the dynamic changes.”

Among the Victory Fund research findings:

  • 70 percent of straight state lawmakers report their LGBT lawmaker colleagues were influential in their votes in favor of marriage equality;
  • In the 30 states that face anti-LGBT legislation, 74 percent have one or no openly LGBT state lawmakers. Of the 20 states that are not facing anti-LGBT legislation, 85 percent have two or more openly LGBT state lawmakers.
  • Nearly 70 percent of states with five or fewer openly LGBT public officials are rated as having low levels of LGBT equality by the Movement Advancement Project.

“While LGBT rights are advancing in some parts of the country, states with few or no openly LGBT elected officials continue to single out LGBT people for discrimination,” said Mayor Parker. “In many ways, the future of the LGBT movement rests on our ability to elect LGBT leaders who will influence and demand the legislative changes necessary for full equality.”

“We have great allies in Congress, but no leaders are more tenacious in demanding LGBT equality than the openly LGBT members,” said Congressman Maloney. “We consistently ensure LGBT issues are a priority for our colleagues, and we are a critical voice in persuading hesitant lawmakers to support the issues that affect our lives.”

“When LGBT elected officials are part of the debate on anti-LGBT or pro-equality legislation, it humanizes the issue, and makes it more difficult for anti-LGBT lawmakers to misrepresent our lives,” said Mrs. Moodie-Mills. “Representation matters for our community, so it is critical we elect our great slate of LGBT candidates this November.”

The Victory Fund “Representation Matters” research series is available online at http://www.victoryfund.org/warroom. The conversation with Mrs. Moodie-Mills and elected officials took place during a telephone press conference Monday morning.