A rainbow wave? More than 880 LGBTQs are running for office in 2020.

Susan J. Demas

According to a recent report, 2020 is shaping up to be a historic year for LGBTQ elected officials in the United States with more openly LGBTQ people running for office than ever before. 

Research from the Victory Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based organization dedicated to help LGBTQ people get elected to office, more than 880 openly LGBTQ people are running for office in 2020, from the local level to the federal level. 

The Victory Institute does not have updated information for the number of LGBTQ people currently running for office in Michigan, but several high-profile candidates are running, including Jody LaMacchia and Brendan Johnson for state House seats. 

The report shows that nationally there are 843 openly LGBTQ people currently in office, which is a 21% increase in the last year. Since June 2019, the number of LGBTQ state legislators increased from 147 to 160, an increase of about 9%.

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In Michigan, there are four openly LGBTQ state lawmakers: state Rep. Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo), state Rep. Tim Sneller (D-Burton), state Rep. Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia) and state Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield). 

Statewide, there are 31 known LGBTQ elected officials, including three mayors, 20 local elected officials, three judicial elected officials and the attorney general.

In November 2018, Michigan elected Attorney General Dana Nessel, making her the first openly lesbian official in the state.

From June 2019 to June 2020, bisexual representation increased by 53%, queer-identified elected officials increased by 71%, and the number of trans women in elected offices grew by 40%. 

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The Victory Institute has been following these trends since the November 2017 elections and found in the last three years, there has been an 88% increase in known openly LGBTQ elected officials. 

In a breakdown of the trends since 2017, the Victory Institute found that the number of known openly LGBTQ elected officials of color doubled (from 92 to 184), including a 126% increase in known openly LGBTQ Black elected officials.

However, Latinx representation grew at a slower rate (71%), as did Asian/Pacific Islander representation (42%) when compared to LGBTQ elected officials overall.

During that time period, the number of known out trans elected officials more than quadrupled (from six to 26), the number of known openly bisexual elected officials increased by 550% (from 8 to 52), the number of pansexual elected officials rose from one to 11 and the number of queer elected officials increased from two to 41.

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While the U.S. is seeing an increase of LGBTQ elected officials, Annise Parker, president and CEO of Victory Institute, says there is still a “daunting representation gap.”

LGBTQ people still hold less than 1% of elected positions nationwide despite making up more than 4% of the U.S. adult population. In order to achieve equitable representation, the Victory Institute says Americans would need to elect another 22,544 LGBTQ people to public office. 

“The hateful legislation targeting our community in city councils, state legislatures and at the federal level is a byproduct of this gap in representation,” Parker said. “Allied elected officials are critically important. But when LGBTQ elected officials are in the halls of power, they change the hearts and minds of their lawmaker colleagues, defeat anti-LGBTQ bills and inspire more inclusive legislation.”

Allison Donahue
Allison R. Donahue covers education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8. When she is away from her desk, she spends her time going to concerts, comedy shows or getting lost on hikes in different places around the world.