Is a Rainbow Wave Coming? A Record Number of LGBTQ Candidates Run for Office

by Kevin Schattenkirk

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday August 7, 2020

Rainbow wave for 2020
Rainbow wave for 2020  (Source:EDGE Media)

In July, it was reported that a record number of LGBTQ+ candidates are running for office in 2020. Of this "Rainbow Wave," the Victory Institute — an organization that helps LGBTQ+ people get elected, based in Washington DC — found that there are "more the 880 openly LGBTQ people" running for office this year at local and federal levels, Michigan Advance reports.

Currently, there are 843 openly LGBTQ+ officials nationwide, according to the Victory Institute. Most serve at the local level (509), in state legislature (160), and in the judiciary (111). There are currently 46 LGBTQ+-identifying mayors, 6 at statewide executive level (Attorney General, Lieutenant Governor, etc.), 7 in US Congress, 2 US Senators, and 2 governors.

Of the 843 currently serving, this represents a 21% increase in LGBTQ+ official since last year, with a 35% increase at the mayoral level. The Victory Institute reports a 53% increase in bisexual elected officials, 71% queer-identifying, and 40% trans women.

With all of these figures, however, it must be noted that of all US elected officials, only .17% are LGBTQ+. The Victory Institute contends that since there are 519,682 elected positions of public service — according to "Becoming a Candidate" by Jennifer Lawless — 22,544 LGBTQ+ people must be elected to office in order to achieve equitable representation.

This year's "rainbow wave" could be significant for expanding representation, as Annise Parker, President and CEO of the Victory Institute, explains in Michigan Advance:

"The hateful legislation targeting our community in city councils, state legislatures and at the federal level is a byproduct of this gap in representation... 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."

Kevin Schattenkirk is an ethnomusicologist and pop music aficionado.

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