The number of elected gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender officials has continued to rise, growing by about 17 percent last year to nearly 1,000 nationwide – more than double what it was four years ago, according to a new annual report.
Their ranks now include two governors, two U.S. senators, nine congressmen, 189 lawmakers, and 56 mayors, according to the report from the LGBTQ Victory Institute, which trains candidates for public office. In total, the group identified 986 elected LGBTQ officials.
“There are more LGBTQ people who take the plunge and choose to run for office,” said Annise Parker, president and chief executive officer of the institute. The 2010-2016 Mayoress of Houston, Ms. Parker, was one of the first openly gay mayors of a major American city.
This is the fifth year the institute has polled the nation, and the total representation of LGBTQ in elected offices has risen to 986 today, from 843 in 2020, 698 in 2019 and 448 in 2017, out of roughly half a million electoral positions .
Of all racial groups, elected Black LGBTQ officials grew the fastest over the past year, with a 75 percent increase in representation, the report said. The number of elected LGBTQ officials from various races rose 40 percent.
The institute prosecutes federal officials, state-wide civil servants, state legislators as well as local and judicial officials. Every state except Mississippi now has at least one elected incumbent who identifies as LGBTQ, the report said.
Ms. Parker said LGBTQ candidates could win across America now, citing Mauree Turner, who was elected to the state MP in Oklahoma last year and is black, Muslim and non-binary.
“The right candidate with the right message can be chosen anywhere,” said Ms. Parker. However, she said bias and discrimination continue to be of concern, especially against transgender candidates.
The partisan divide is one-sided: 73 percent of LGBTQ officials are Democrats and less than 3 percent are Republicans, according to the institute.
“There are more trans-elected officials than Republican elected officials,” Ms. Parker said.
She said former President Donald J. Trump was “probably the best Democratic recruiter you can have,” suggesting that general anti-Trump Democratic zeal fueled the rise in LGBTQ candidates win the office.
As of 2021, there will be at least one elected transgender officer in 23 states, according to the report. The surge in transgender representation last year came entirely from elected transgender women, who grew 71 percent from 21 to 36; there was no growth in the number of transgender men, which remained constant at five.
Ms. Parker said a key goal is to “fill the pipeline” of LGBTQ candidates from local to high office so that there is “a pool of potential presidential candidates from our community” in the future.
She praised Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who ran for president in 2020 and is now federal minister of transportation. But she said she hoped LGBTQ officials would continue to climb the ranks to become governors and senators – traditionally more realistic launch pads for a White House run than small town mayor’s office.
For the time being, however, town halls will remain one of the few political arenas in which LGBTQ officials are fairly represented by six mayors among the top 100 cities based on their proportion of the population. The most prominent is Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago.
Despite the rapid growth, the institute estimates that LGBTQ individuals still make up 0.19 percent of the country’s elected officials, compared to an estimated 5.6 percent of the population.