As voters flocked to the polls for yesterday’s midterm election, they cast votes that resulted in many historic firsts for the country. In addition to electing a record number of women to the House of Representatives — including the youngest woman and first Native American women to be elected to Congress — a record number of LGBTQ candidates were victorious as well. Last night Jared Polis, who won the gubernatorial race in Colorado, became the first openly gay man to be elected governor. In his victory speech in downtown Denver, Polis said, “We proved that we’re an inclusive state that values every contribution, regardless of someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Meanwhile, Sharice Davids made history in Kansas as she became the first gay Native American woman to be elected to Congress. And in Minnesota, an anti-LGBTQ incumbent lost his seat in the House to lesbian democrat Angie Craig, who is the state’s first openly gay congresswoman. But Craig wasn’t the only LGBTQ candidate to unseat an anti-LGBTQ legislator. Katie Hill, as the first openly bisexual woman to be elected to the House of Representatives in California, defeated republican Steve Knight, who strongly opposed marriage equality and routinely supported legislation that discriminated against the LGBTQ community while in office. “Katie will join a historic number of LGBTQ women in the U.S. Congress next year,” former Mayor Annise Parker, president and CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund, said in a press release. “And together these women will transform the conversation in Washington, D.C.”
Also going to Washington to proudly represent their state of New Hampshire are Gerri Cannon and Lisa Bunker, two transgender candidates who won House seats and will make history when they become the second and third transgender state legislators in the country alongside Virginia Delegate Danica Roem. On Twitter, Roem wrote, “Pretty soon, I will no longer [be] the only out transgender state legislator in the country…and that is wonderful!”
All over the nation, where voters turned out in historic numbers, many elected LGBTQ officials also won re-election, including the first openly LGBTQ person ever elected to the senate, Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin. And in Massachusetts, voters defended the rights of trans* people by upholding an anti-discrimination law that protects transgender people from discrimination in public places, such as bathrooms and locker rooms.
Despite disappointing losses out of Florida and Texas, where Andrew Gillum was gunning for governor and Beto O’Rourke put up a strong fight for Ted Cruz’ senate seat, the democrats regained control of the House for the first time in eight years, which, along with the women and LGBTQ candidates who made history last night, is a sign of hope for the years to come.