Wednesday, November 09, 2022

LGBTQ candidates dominate the midterms in the approaching shadow of DeSantis

Well I am back from my day-long hiatus and apparently I missed a lot of good stuff. Maybe I should start taking hiatuses on more election nights. Aside from the big news that the GOP's expected "red wave" was mostly a pink trickle, there was other wonderful news from the midterms. While I am sure the mainstream media will conveniently omit it, the LGBTQ community had a history making  night.

Wait a minute. That's putting it too nicely. 

We kicked MAJOR ass!!!

From Metro Weekly:

For the third straight electoral cycle in a row, LGBTQ candidates for political office broke a previous record, with at least 340 out LGBTQ candidates winning races at various levels of government as of 9 a.m. on Wednesday. 

 While many races have not yet been called due to the heavy volume of mail-in ballots (one of the side effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which changed voting behavior), the number of successful candidates eclipses the previous record, set in 2020, of 336 out elected candidates. In total, 1,065 out LGBTQ people ran for office in 2022, with 678 making it to the general election. 

With 340 of those 678 winning, even if no additional LGBTQ candidates were to win in yet-to-be-called races — which is highly unlikely — it means more than half, or 50.15%, of all LGBTQ candidates appearing on general election ballots were victorious.

Among the victories, we saw three states elect and re-elect openly gay people as governors. Former Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey became the first openly lesbian governor in the country. She didn't have to wait long for there to be a second one. Tina Kotek won the gubernatorial election in Oregon. In addition, openly gay Colorado governor Jared Polis won a second term.

According to USA Today, other victorious LGBTQ candidates include:

Democrat James Roesener, a bisexual transgender man, was elected to New Hampshire House of Representatives, District 22 Ward 8. He is the first openly transgender man to win in any state legislature election. 

 First out LGBTQ immigrant elected to Congress  - Democrat Robert Garcia, who is gay, was elected in the race for California's 42nd congressional district. He is currently the mayor of Long Beach. According to his online bio, Garcia immigrated to the United States at age 5 and was raised in Southern California. 

Democrat Becca Balint was elected in Vermont to the U.S. House of Representatives. She is the first woman and openly gay person to represent the state in Congress. 

Democrat Patricia Contreras is one of the first out lesbian Latinas elected to the Arizona House of Representatives. 

 Democrat Liz Bennett, who identifies as a queer woman, was elected to the Iowa State Senate, District 39. She currently serves in the state House of Representatives.

According to The Hill:

 Democrats Zooey Zephyr of Montana and Leigh Finke of Minnesota each defeated their Republican opponents in landslide wins to become the first transgender women elected to the state legislature. 

 Minnesota voters also voted to elect Alicia Kozlowski to the state House as the legislature’s first nonbinary member. . . . 

Jennie Armstrong, Andrew Gray and Ashley Carrick — all Democrats — made history Tuesday evening, becoming the first openly LGBTQ lawmakers elected to the Alaska state legislature. All three will serve in the House. 

 Democrat Kameron Nelson also won his House race Tuesday in South Dakota, becoming the state legislature’s first openly gay member. Former state Rep. Angie Buhl, also a Democrat, came out as bisexual after being elected to her first term.

 But there is bitter with the sweet when it comes to one victory. According to LGBTQNation:

In a historic first for the country, two gay candidates ran against each other in a general election for Congress. George Santos – a Trump-loving Republican who has called himself “a walking, living, breathing contradiction” – beat out Democrat Robert Zimmerman to represent New York’s 3rd Congressional District and become the first out LGBTQ member of Congress from Long Island, getting 54% of the vote with 93% of precincts reporting. While Zimmerman ran on a platform of LGBTQ equality, Santos has said abortion is as barbaric as slavery and has voiced support for Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law.

How Santos will handle himself promises to be interesting.

All in all, LGBTQ people had a wonderful midterm. Metro Weekly points out the irony of these victories in an environment in which our rights were under attack by Republicans in state legislatures from books about us to school officials who supported us to policies designed to protect trans students. It seemed that all of it was for naught because we rose to the occasion.

But there is a problem. A huge shadow on the horizon. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis won re-election easily by a large margin. And by doing so, he has positioned himself as the Republican frontrunner in the 2024 election. DeSantis' success came in part with attacks on the LGBTQ  community via the infamous 'Don't Say Gay' law and now an attempt to outlaw gender-affirming treatment for transgender children.

Pink News rightfully called his re-election is a bad omen for LGBTQ Americans:

Editor and film critic Jon Negroni tweeted: “The real question is whether or not the guy’s politics translate to the rest of the country, and no one really knows that for sure, yet. “But I think it’s obvious to anyone with a brain that he’s a stronger presidential candidate than that other guy… The stakes here are extremely high. “A DeSantis presidency and republican congress in 2025 could bring about a rollback in rights for LGBTQ people that can’t be understated. We could be seeing federal bans on all gender affirming care, even for adults.”

I have a solution to the possibility of DeSantis using LGBTQ Americans as scapegoats much like he did in Florida. That solution is that we continue to do what we are doing. DeSantis's successes thrived in ignorance, whether it be ignorance of same-sex families, LGBTQ kids, or what gender-affirming care for trans youth actually entails in contrast to the ugly connotative images pushed by the anti-LGBTQ industry

Live openly, tell our stories. And above all, encourage more of us to run for office. These victories demonstrate that there is  place for us in America as we want it to be instead of what some try to determine for us. We need more people representing us and speaking for us. We need intelligent and rationale voices to articulate our lives and break the fever of fear and ignorance which is exploited to undermine our lives.

Let's celebrate what happened in the midterms, but let's also not be lazy. Let's not rest on our laurels. There is more work to do and, as the midterms show, the harvest promises to be plenty.

Editor's Note - I apologize for the victories I did not mention, as well as the losses. There were some of those too. However, I encourage everyone to read The Victory Fund's webpage and interactive map for more information about the LGBTQ candidates.