Milestones in LGBT Politics in America

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1974

 

Kathy Kozachenko wins a seat on the Ann Arbor, Mich., City Council, becoming the first openly LGBT candidate to win elective office in the United States.  Later that year, Elaine Noble, an out lesbian, is elected to the Massachusetts State House.  Minnesota State Sen. Allan Spear comes out as gay in December.  His later reelection makes him the third successful openly LGBT candidate in the U.S.

 

1976

 

Jim Yeadon, an openly gay man, is appointed to a vacant seat on the city council in Madison, Wis., and later wins an election to the seat.

 

1977

 

Harvey Milk is elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, becoming the fifth openly LGBT candidate in the U.S. and the first in California to win election to public office.  He leads a statewide effort to help defeat the Briggs Initiative, which would have banned openly LGBT teachers in public schools.

 

1978

 

Harvey Milk is assassinated at San Francisco City Hall along with Mayor George Moscone.  The killer is Dan White, his fellow Supervisor.

 

1984

 

An inaugural meeting of openly LGBT elected officials is convened in West Hollywood, leading to the establishment of the International Network of Lesbian and Gay Officials.  Among the attendees is Tammy Baldwin, a 24 year-old member of the Dane County, Wis. Board of Supervisors.  Attendees guess there are no more than a few dozen out LGBT elected officials in the world.

 

1987

 

Rep. Barney Frank tells the Boston Globe he is gay, becoming just the second Member of Congress in history to openly discuss his homosexuality.  "I don't think my sex life is relevant to my job, but on the other hand I don't want to leave the impression that I'm embarrassed about my life," Frank said.

 

1991

 

The Victory Fund is founded, endorses its first two candidates and gets its first win.  Sherry Harris becomes the first openly lesbian African-American elected to a city council anywhere in America.

 

1992

 

Tammy Baldwin is endorsed for the first time.  She wins election to the Wisconsin state legislature.  The fund raises more than $200,000 for 12 candidates.

 

1993

 

The Gay & Lesbian Victory Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization, is launched. The Foundation begins training future candidates and campaign workers to help LGBT leaders achieve careers in public service.  Roberta Achtenberg becomes the first openly LGBT presidential appointee to a Senate-confirmable position.

 

1994

 

Twenty-eight candidates earn the Victory Fund's endorsement, with 14 elected to state legislatures, city councils and judicial posts.

 

1995

 

Victory Fund endorses Roberta Achtenberg for mayor of San Francisco.

 

1996

 

50 candidates are endorsed.  Ed Flanagan becomes the first openly LGBT candidate elected to a statewide office, winning his race for State Auditor in Vermont.

 

1997

 

Cathy Woolard becomes the first openly LGBT elected official in Georgia, winning her race for Atlanta City Council.  Annise Parker is elected to an at-large seat on the Houston City Council.

 

1998

 

Victory Fund endorses Tammy Baldwin and Jim Kolbe for Congress.  Baldwin's victory makes her the first openly LGBT candidate to win a seat in Congress as a non-incumbent. Kolbe becomes the first openly gay Republican to win election to Congress.

 

1999

 

California's out state legislators help pass one of the nation's first statewide domestic partner registries.  James Hormel becomes the first openly LGBT American appointed to represent the U.S. as an ambassador.

 

2000

 

58% of Victory's 51 endorsed candidates win their races.

 

2001

 

Christine Quinn and two other LGBT candidates win election to the New York City Council.  The Victory Foundation begins producing the annual conference for the International Network of Lesbian and Gay Officials.

 

2002

 

Jim Roth becomes the first openly LGBT elected official in Oklahoma history, winning a seat on the Oklahoma County Commission.  David Cicilline is elected mayor of Providence, R.I.  David Catania, an openly gay Republican, is elected to his second term on the District of Columbia City Council.  87% of Victory's 48 endorsed candidates win their races.

 

2003

 

Ron Oden of Palm Springs becomes the first openly gay African-American mayor in the U.S. Annise Parker is elected City Controller in Houston.

 

2004

 

Nicole LeFavour wins election to the Idaho House of Representatives, becoming that state's first openly LGBT elected official.  Lupe Valdez is elected Sheriff of Dallas County, Texas.  More than 20 Victory Fund candidates are elected to state legislative seats across America.

 

2005

 

José Cisneros is elected Treasurer of San Francisco, California.  Barb Baier becomes the first out elected official in Nebraska, winning a seat on the Lincoln School Board. Connecticut's out legislators help pass a civil unions bill.  The Victory Foundation completes its merger with the International Network of Lesbian and Gay Officials, becoming the Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute.

 

2006

 

67 of Victory's 88 endorsed candidates win their elections, and the Fund raises and spends nearly $1 million in direct candidate contributions.  Patricia Todd becomes the first openly LGBT elected official in Alabama, and Kathy Webb reaches the same milestone in Arkansas, when the two Victory-backed candidates are elected to their state's Houses of Representatives.  Evan Low is elected to the Campbell, California City Council, and later in his term becomes the nation's youngest openly LGBT mayor.

 

2007

 

Reed Gusciora is reelected to the New Jersey Assembly after coming out as gay in his previous term.  Oregon State Rep. Tina Kotek helps pass a statewide domestic partnership bill.  Colorado's out legislators win their fight to add sexual orientation to the state's nondiscrimination laws.

 

2008

 

Victory endorses a record 111 candidates, with 70% going on to win their races.  Lawrence Webb is elected to the Falls Church City Council, becoming the first openly gay African-American elected in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  In Oregon, Kate Brown becomes the first openly LGBT candidate in U.S. history to be elected to a Secretary of State post.  Jared Polis, and out gay man, is elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Colorado.  The Presidential Appointments Project is launched with a goal of increasing LGBT appointees in the executive branch of the federal government.

 

2009

 

Annise Parker is elected mayor of Houston, the fourth largest city in America.  Charles Pugh becomes the first openly gay elected official in Detroit, winning the presidency of the city council after finishing first in a crowded field.  Simone Bell in Georgia becomes the first African-American lesbian to win election to a state legislature.  Vermont's and New Hampshire's LGBT legislators help pass marriage equality bills. The 25th International Gay & Lesbian Leadership Conference is held in San Francisco, drawing a record 600 attendees.  The U.S. Congress passes the first-ever piece of legislation protecting LGBT Americans--the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

 

2010

 

107 Victory-endorsed candidates win their races, including David Cicilline, who becomes just the seventh openly LGBT American elected to Congress.  Jim Gray is elected mayor of Lexington, Kentucky.  Nickie Antonio becomes the first openly LGBT person elected to the Ohio state legislature.  Victoria Kolakowski becomes the first openly transgender candidate elected to a judicial seat in the U.S.  Maryland and California increase their LGBT state legislative caucuses to seven members each.  Illinois State Reps. Greg Harris and Deb Mell lead a successful effort to pass a statewide civil unions law.  President Obama appoints more LGBT Americans to his administration than all other U.S. presidents combined.  Gay and lesbian couples begin to marry in Washington, D.C. thanks to the efforts of openly gay city councilman David Catania.

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