L.G.B.T.Q. Elected Officials in U.S. Number Nearly 1,000, Rising Fast


The number of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender elected officials has continued to surge, growing by about 17 percent in the last year to nearly 1,000 nationwide — more than double the number just four years ago, according to a new annual report.

Their ranks now include two governors, two United States senators, nine members of Congress, 189 state legislators and 56 mayors, according to the report from the L.G.B.T.Q. Victory Institute, which provides training to candidates seeking public office. All told, the group identified 986 L.G.B.T.Q. elected officials.

“There are more L.G.B.T.Q. folks who are taking the plunge and deciding to run for office,” said Annise Parker, the institute’s president and chief executive. The mayor of Houston from 2010 to 2016, Ms. Parker was one of the first openly gay mayors of a major American city.

This is the fifth year that the institute has surveyed the nation, and total L.G.B.T.Q. representation in elected offices has risen to 986 today, from 843 in 2020, 698 in 2019 and 448 in 2017, out of roughly a half-million elective positions.

Of all racial groups, Black L.G.B.T.Q. elected officials grew at the fastest rate in the last year, with a 75 percent increase in representation, according to the report. The number of multiracial L.G.B.T.Q. elected officials rose by 40 percent.

The institute tracks federal officeholders, statewide officials, state legislators, as well as municipal and judicial officials. Every state except Mississippi now has at least one elected officeholder who identifies as L.G.B.T.Q., the report said.

Ms. Parker said that L.G.B.T.Q. candidates could now win all across America, citing Mauree Turner, who was elected last year as a state legislator in Oklahoma and is Black, Muslim and nonbinary.

“The right candidate with the right message can be elected anywhere,” Ms. Parker said. But she said that bias and discrimination remain concerns, especially against transgender candidates.

The partisan divide is lopsided: 73 percent of L.G.B.T.Q. officials are Democrats, and less than 3 percent Republicans, the institute said.

“There are more trans elected officials than there are out Republican elected officials,” Ms. Parker said.

She said that former President Donald J. Trump had been “probably the best recruiter of Democratic candidates you could possibly have,” and suggested that across-the-board Democratic anti-Trump fervor had fueled the rise in L.G.B.T.Q. contenders winning office.

As of 2021, 23 states have at least one transgender elected official, according to the report. The growth in transgender representation in the last year came entirely from elected transgender women, who grew by 71 percent, from 21 to 36; there was no growth among the number of transgender men, which held steady at five.

Ms. Parker said one key goal was to “fill the pipeline” of L.G.B.T.Q. candidates from local to high office so that there is “a pool of potential presidential contenders from our community” in the future.

She praised Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., who ran for president as a long-shot in 2020 and is now the federal transportation secretary. But she said she hoped that L.G.B.T.Q. officials would continue to rise through the ranks to become governors and senators — traditionally, more realistic launching pads for a White House run than the mayoralty of a small city.

For now, though, city halls remain one of the few political arenas where L.G.B.T.Q. officials are equitably represented, based on their share of the population, with six mayors among the top 100 cities. The most prominent is Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago.

Despite the rapid growth it has charted, the institute estimates that L.G.B.T.Q. people still account for just 0.19 percent of the nation’s elected officials, compared to an estimated 5.6 percent of the population.

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