‘Urgency to run’: LGBTQ candidates make history in US midterms | US Midterm Elections 2022 News

At least 678 openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) candidates will appear on the ballot in the upcoming midterm elections in the United States, a historic number that comes as advocates say a flurry of state laws attack gay and transgender rights. .

The candidates running in November’s general election were among 1,065 openly LGBTQ individuals who entered the 2022 election, according to the LGBTQ Victory Fund.

November 8 voters will go to the polls to decide the party for the US House and Senate, as well as state officials and legislators.

Annise Parker, president of the Victory Fund, said the number of LGBTQ candidates in the general election, at 18.1 percent, more than 2020 elections, creates an opportunity to “elect more LGBTQ people to office than ever before.”

“Bigots want us to stay home and shut up, but their attacks are backfiring and have spurred a new wave of LGBTQ leaders to run for office,” she said in a statement. “Sitting on the sidelines is not an option when our rights depend on small things.”

Across the country, many LGBTQ candidates have been motivated by a recent spate of anti-LGBTQ bills, and transgender rights have been particularly exploited in recent years as a wedge issue used to rally voters in the Republican Party’s most conservative base. , according to Gabriele Magni, associate professor of political science at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

“When we ask LGBTQ candidates why they are running for office, many say they have an urgent need to run to protect LGBTQ rights,” Magni told Al Jazeera.

Maura
Massachusetts Attorney General and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Maura Healey [File: Mary Schwalm/The Associated Press]

“They know they have to be in office at all levels, including school boards, to make decisions about children and the possibility of disenfranchisement for trans youth,” Magni said.

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Prominent candidates include Democrats Maura Healey and Tina Kotek, who are running for governor of Massachusetts and Oregon, respectively, and could be the first lesbian state governors in US history.

Becca Belint will also be the first LGBTQ person and the first woman to hold Vermont’s only congressional seat, while North Carolina, Oregon, Maryland and Illinois are among the states that could elect their first LGBTQ congressional candidates.

Robert Garcia, the former mayor of Long Beach, California, who immigrated to the United States from Peru as a child, is running to become the first LGTBQ immigrant elected to Congress in history. In Alaska, Andrew Gray is running to become the first LGBTQ state legislator.

At least 119 LGBTQ candidates ran for Congress during the midterm season, 416 ran for state legislatures, 41 ran for statewide offices and 412 ran for local offices and school boards, according to the LGBTQ Victory Fund.

Santos
Robert Garcia is running to become the first LGBTQ immigrant in the US Congress [Ashley Landis/The Associated Press]

In another political country, two openly gay New Yorkers, Democrat Robert Zimmerman and Republican George Santos, are vying for a seat in the US House of Representatives. According to the Victory Fund, nearly 90 percent of all LGBTQ candidates in the midterm season were Democrats, while about 4.5 percent of LGBTQ candidates were Republicans.

In an interview with the Washington Blade in September, Zimmerman said his experience as a gay man in the U.S. shaped his political ideology, while Santos said his sexuality has no bearing on issues Americans care about, including the economy and crime.

“It’s good to see that opportunities are equal for everyone in this country,” Santos told the news site, adding: “I think it’s a distraction, actually, from the real issues that are plaguing our country right now. I’d rather talk about that all day than my sexual interests.

Still, the number of candidates has surged in recent years thanks to state laws backed by a majority of Republicans that advocates say limit LGBTQ rights.

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That included 238 bills introduced by lawmakers in the first three months of 2022, according to an NBC analysis of data by the American Civil Liberties Union and the advocacy group Freedom for All Americans. months. This number was a huge increase from 2018, when only 41 bills were submitted. According to the analysis, at least 191 bills were filed in all of 2021.

According to the advocacy group GLAAD, in August approximately 180 bills introduced in 2022 targeted the transgender community. These bills generally seek to limit gender-affirming health care for youth, which the American Academy of Pediatrics calls “medically necessary and appropriate,” and in some cases, “life-saving.” Other legislation sought to ban transgender youth from playing on sports teams of the gender they identify with.

Other legislation included Florida’s so-called “don’t tell gay” law, which prohibits teachers from discussing sexual orientation and gender identity in the classroom. Four other states have passed similar laws, which the Trevor Project, an LGBTQ suicide prevention organization, said “erased young LGBTQ students” and contradicted research showing that open discussion of LGBTQ issues leads to fewer suicide attempts.

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The urgency has been heightened by fears that the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, which struck down federal protections for abortion, could lead to the elimination of federal protections for gay rights. In his opinion in the case, conservative Justice Clarence Thomas said Obergefell v. Hodges, the federal legalization of gay marriage, was one of several cases that should be reviewed based on the arguments that overturned Roe.

The rulings, he wrote in a non-legally binding opinion, “were clearly erroneous decisions.”

Florida's 'don't say gay' bill.
Demonstrators gather at Florida’s state capitol to protest a “don’t say gay” law. [File: Wilfredo Lee/The Associated Press]

Meanwhile, voters who identify as LGBTQ are projected to make up an even larger share of the electorate in the coming years, from just over 11.3 percent nationwide in 2022. to 14 percent in 2030 and then 18 percent by 2040. a study (PDF) released in October by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

This trend is even more pronounced in several influential states, including Georgia, Texas and Arizona.

In another shift, studies have shown that gay candidates have done as well as straight candidates in general elections in recent years, while lesbian candidates have outperformed straight candidates, according to Magni.

“I think it’s a big change,” he told Al Jazeera. “As conventional wisdom has long held, LGBTQ candidates would be penalized because moderate voters might not feel comfortable supporting these candidates.”



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