Salt Lake City, Utah, could be the next major U.S. city to elect an openly-LGBT mayor. The Victory Fund today announced that it has endorsed Jackie Biskupski’s mayoral campaign.
Biskupski, an out lesbian, is a mom, veteran of the Utah legislature, and member of Sheriff Winder’s leadership team. She is seeking the highest office in Salt Lake City after over a decade of representing Salt Lake City’s 30th District. As Mayor, Biskupski has pledged to prioritize public input into transportation decisions, build up Salt Lake City’s robust economy, and improve the city’s air quality by creating affordable housing for families and increased employment opportunities along public transit lines.
For the mayoral candidate, advocating for equality is a central tenet of her platform. She noted that women and people of color do not earn equal pay for equal work, and that LGBT people and women still face discrimination. "It is time for this city to have a mayor who can speak to these issues in the first person," said Biskupski during her campaign announcement.
"Because Salt Lake City has taken significant strides toward equality for the LGBT community, it is easy for some to become complacent and believe the struggle for equality is over," she said. "We are still far short of victory."
The Victory Fund made a total of nine endorsements this week for races across America. Three of this month’s candidates—Billy Maddalon and incumbents Al Austin and LaWana Mayfield—are all vying for different spots on the Charlotte, N.C., City Council. Patrick Davis, who is running for a seat on Albuquerque’s City Council, would be that body’s only out official.
Patrick Davis – City Council District 6, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Amos Goodman – County Legislature District 2, Suffolk County, New York
Lane Lewis – City Council At-Large Position 1, Houston, Texas
Billy Maddalon – City Council At-Large, Charlotte, North Carolina
Michael Maddux – City Council District 4, Seattle, Washington
Other candidates receiving Victory’s endorsement in June are:
Al Austin - City Council District 2, Charlotte, North Carolina (incumbent)
Jon Hoadley - Michigan House of Representatives, District 60 (2016 race) (incumbent)
LaWana Mayfield - City Council District 3, Charlotte, North Carolina (incumbent)
Aisha Moodie-Mills, president and CEO of the Victory Fund and Institute, issued the following statement today regarding the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges:
“LGBT Americans have won the freedom to marry the person they love no matter where they live. This is a historic day, and this victory belongs to every openly LGBT American who came out, broke down barriers and changed the hearts of our families, friends and co-workers. Being honest and open about who we are and who we love is the key to winning the freedoms we still lack in so many places in America. Tomorrow we go back to work to ensure LGBT people enjoy the same ability to work, live, love and care for their families in every state in America. Victory’s role in that fight is to develop, train and help elect the openly LGBT leaders who are on the front lines in these battles, and whose powerful examples inspire us every day.
We congratulate Jim Obergefell and all of the plaintiffs whose simple desire for dignity and respect the Court today recognized. We also congratulate the many LGBT legal and advocacy groups whose hard work over decades brought us to this moment.”
This month, the Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute welcomed the 2015 class of Victory Congressional Interns to Washington, D.C. This competitive program places LGBT college students in a semester long internship with an LGBT or LGBT-friendly member of Congress in their Washington, D.C. office. The eight individuals were selected from a pool of over 100 applicants.
“Victory congratulates this year’s class of exceptional young LGBT leaders,” said Aisha Moodie-Mills, president and CEO of the Victory Fund and Institute. “The Victory Congressional Internship is a crucial part of the Victory Institute’s mission - to build and support a network of LGBT leaders. I look forward to the role that these eight young people will play in expanding LGBT representation.”
Cat Cojocaru - University of Missouri
Office of the Senate Democratic Diversity Initiative
Cat Cojocaru is a senior at the University of Missouri, studying public relations in the Missouri School of Journalism and pursuing a second degree in political science. On campus, Cat is the alumnae relations chair of the Eta Chi chapter of Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority, the public relations chair of Greek Allies, and a member of the Proud Tigers Mentorship Program. Cat also works at the MU Terrorism and Disaster Center as an undergraduate fellow.
Samantha Hubbard - Towson University
Office of Representative Norma Torres
Sam Hubbard is a senior at Towson University, where she studies Psychology and Sociology with a minor in Political Science. Sam serves on the National Coordinating Committee for United We Dream and is a NASPA Undergraduate Fellow. Previously, Sam worked on grassroots campaigns for various state and local organizations, including Equality Maryland and Environment Maryland. On campus, Sam has served as Director of Diversity Outreach for student government and as a Resident Assistant.
Jasper Katz - Bard College
Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs - Office of Senator Tammy Baldwin
Jasper Katz is a senior at Bard College, where they study Politics. On campus, they are a Peer Counselor, a member of Bard's Multicultural Diversity Committee and Peer Review Board, and co-head of the Queer Student Association. Jasper has also worked as field organizer on the YES Chattanooga Campaign and with Mainers United, and as a political intern for Progressive Majority Washington.
Yanelis Martinez - State University of New York at Albany
Office of Representative Raúl Grijalva
Yanelis Martinez is a junior at the State University of New York at Albany, where she studies Political Science, Latin America & Caribbean Studies, and LGBT* Studies. On campus, Yanelis serves as the Associate Director for the Student Association’s Gender and Sexuality Concerns Department and as a staff assistant in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. She is also the President for Shades of Unified Liberation, the queer person of color organization on campus and the founder and Vice President of the student group Unity Amongst Cultures.
Kory Masen - California State University, Chico
Office of Representative Alan Lowenthal
Kory Masen is a senior at California State University, Chico where he is studying Sociology, Multicultural and Gender Studies with an Option in Women’s Studies. On campus, Kory serves as the Executive Vice President of the Associated Students and is the former Vice President of Facilities and Services. He has interned at the AS Gender and Sexuality Equity Center, where he was instrumental in the creation of a new transgender program, and was part of the National Undergraduate Fellowship Program.
Morgan McLaughlin - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Office of Representative Lois Frankel
Morgan McLaughlin is a junior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she is studying Political Science and Public Policy. On campus, Morgan is the LGBTQ Project Leader for student government and a program assistant at UNC’s LGBTQ Center. She also works as the Director of Trainings for Rethink: Psychiatric Illness. Next year, Morgan will serve as the Social Chair for Sexuality and Gender Alliance, the foremost LGBTQ organization on campus.
Angela Tang - Whitman College
Office of Senator Patty Murray
Angela Tang is a junior at Whitman College where she studies Economics and Politics. On campus, she works as a council member on the Whitman Inclusion Diversity Equity Council, as a Resident Assistant, and as the Executive Director for the annual Power & Privilege Symposium. Angela recently completed a grassroots organizing fellowship with the Washington Bus and has also interned with the Intercultural Center of Whitman College, serving as GLBTQ Co-President.
Von Dickens Ulsa - University of Hawaii at Manoa
Office of Senator Mazie Hirono
Von Dickens Ulsa is a junior at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where he studies American Studies, English, and History and is minoring in Filipino. On campus, Von serves as a peer mentor through the GEAR UP Hawaii Undergraduate Initiative and is the Editor-in-Chief of Kalayaan Literary Circle. He is a Chancellor Scholar and an Inouye Legacy Scholar, selected for promoting research ethics in museum studies. Previously, Von has worked at the Honolulu Academy of Art and the New York Historical Society.
Jolie Justus, a former Missouri state senator, last night became the first openly LGBT candidate to win election to the Kansas City Council.
The Victory Fund, which backed her campaign, hailed the results as a sign of progress in the Midwest. "We're thrilled for Jolie and for Kansas City," said Aisha C. Moodie-Mills, president and CEO of the Victory Fund. "This is a big victory for the LGBT community in the Kansas City region, because Jolie will be a powerful voice for them and all her constituents as a member of the city council."
Justus won with more than 76 percent of the vote in an election year that saw more women and more people of color running for and winning council seats.
Victory Empowerment Fellow Robert Salcido, a San Antonio field organizer for Equality Texas, spoke to Out in San Antonio about his experience at our Candidate & Campaign training. “It was intense,” Salcido said. “I would definitely recommend it to anyone considering running for office or being involved in a campaign.”
This spring, Salcido participated in the training as part of the first class of the Victory Empowerment Fellowship, which supports LGBT leaders of color and transgender leaders who seek to expand their campaign skills and policymaking power and be part of a strong cohort of movement leaders from around the country. (Find out more about the fellowship and sign up for alerts about next year’s application here.
For more than two decades, Victory has trained thousands of LGBT people who wanted to make a difference in their own communities as public officials. Robert Salcido is not the only Texan alum of our Candidate & Campaign Trainings; graduates of the program include Houston Mayor Annise Parker, former City Councilwoman Elena Guajardo, and Sheriff Lupe Valdez, the first Latina lesbian sheriff elected in the United States.
“[My victory] began with the expert Candidate & Campaign Training I received through the Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute, which provided the guidance, skills and support I needed to run for a seat that no Democrat had won in more than 25 years – and no woman had ever won,” said Valdez.
Alumni of Victory’s training programs, including Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO), are among America’s most high-profile openly LGBT leaders
This July, Victory’s Candidate & Campaign Training will brave the hot Texas sun and return to the Lone Star State. Up to 40 LGBT people will gather in San Antonio for three days of intensive training on how to build an effective political campaign and position themselves as future candidates or campaign staffers. They’ll leave with an understanding of campaign basics, from fundraising to field work, and messaging to mail programs. They’ll hear the inspirational stories of LGBT elected officials who are currently serving, and meet the leadership of state and national LGBT organizations who can help them with future political campaigns.
We have a limited number of spaces left, so apply today for the chance to join us at our San Antonio training in July here.
On Wednesday, a group of Chicago aldermen, including Tom Tunney, the city’s first openly gay member of the City Council, formed the body’s first-ever LGBT caucus. The five out aldermen — including James Cappleman, Deb Mell, and newly-elected aldermen Carlos Ramirez-Rosa and Raymond Lopez — hope to lobby together to address the LGBT community’s concerns.
In an interview with DNAinfo Chicago, Tunney remembered times throughout his twelve years on the Council when other aldermen would say, “It’s a gay issue, go talk to Tunney.”
Through the LGBT Caucus, the five aldermen plan to work together to address a broad range of issues that disproportionately affect LGBT communities, including police profiling of transgender people, HIV/AIDS funding, and LGBT youth homelessness. The Caucus also plans to lobby for an LGBTQ-inclusive Chicago Public Schools curriculum.
"LGBT issues touch all communities, whether it's bullying, access to health care, AIDS, homeless youth or transgender issues," Lopez said. "It's crucial that we have a forum to discuss these important issues and a mechanism to speak with a unified voice."
Underscoring the importance of visibility, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg came out as gay in an essay published Tuesday by the South Bend Tribune. Buttigieg wrote that it took him “years of struggle and growth” before he could acknowledge “the simple fact that I am gay.”
The first-term Democratic mayor was elected at the age of 30, which made him the youngest U.S. mayor of a city with a population of over 100,000. He is now also the only openly LGBT mayor in Indiana, and is seeking reelection this year.
Buttigieg is a Navy veteran who served active military duty in Afghanistan. He returned to South Bend on Saturday after an annual two-week obligation to the U.S. Navy Reserve.
Last year, the Washington Post called the 33-year-old, “the most interesting mayor you’ve never heard of,” in a profile that noted he was also named one of GovFresh’s two “mayors of the year” in 2013 due to his work as a “public servant innovator.”
"Being more open about it could do some good," Buttigieg wrote about his decision to come out. "For a local student struggling with her sexuality, it might be helpful for an openly gay mayor to send the message that her community will always have a place for her. And for a conservative resident from a different generation, whose unease with social change is partly rooted in the impression that he doesn’t know anyone gay, perhaps a familiar face can be a reminder that we’re all in this together as a community."
The South Bend native’s essay highlights the importance of having openly LGBT public officials.
“Out public officials are essential to ensure that the concerns of LGBT people are represented at all levels of government,” said Aisha Moodie-Mills, president and CEO of the Victory Fund and Institute, “We applaud Pete Buttigieg for his decision to come out, and we will continue to work hard to elect and support LGBT leaders like Buttigieg in all corners of America.”
The Victory Fund and Institute today congratulated Florida State Rep. David Richardson for his role in protecting gay adoption rights.
Richardson, Florida’s first openly gay state lawmaker, introduced the amendment that removed the statewide ban. The amendment was attached to House Bill 7013, which provides incentives to increase the Florida adoption rate.
Republican Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill into law on Thursday, repealing the almost four-decade adoption ban on lesbian and gay parents.
“This is a momentous day and an important advance for civil rights,” said Richardson in an interview with The Orlando Sentinel. “It’s also great news for children who will be adopted into loving homes.”
Gay Florida residents have been able to adopt since 2010 when a state appeals court ruling stopped enforcement of the ban, but Richardson’s amendment formally removed the 1977 ban from Florida statutes. It will take effect on July 1.
The importance of electing openly LGBT lawmakers is clear today in Florida. "Who would have guessed I would be the one here to repeal a law that so personally affected me?" Richardson said.
“This is an important victory for LGBT Floridians, and we’re proud that the effort was spearheaded by the only openly LGBT lawmaker in Tallahassee,” said Aisha Moodie-Mills, president and CEO of the Victory Fund and Institute. “Out officials like David Richardson are on the front lines of these legislative battles across the country, and we will work hard to support them and increase their numbers, especially in places like Florida where the LGBT community enjoys few legal protections.”
The Victory Fund and Institute today congratulated Dr. Rachel Levine on her confirmation as Pennsylvania's Physician General. On Tuesday, the unanimous state senate confirmation vote made Dr. Levine the first transgender person in Pennsylvania appointed to a Governor’s cabinet, as well as one of the highest-ranking transgender public officials in the U.S.
“Dr. Levine’s career of service in the field of medicine has been exemplary, and we are proud that she has accomplished all this as an out transgender woman," said Aisha Moodie-Mills, president and CEO of the Victory Fund & Institute. "The entire Victory family offers our congratulations as she takes on this important new role."
Dr. Levine has been recognized statewide for her excellence in the fields of pediatrics and psychology. She has worked as a physician at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center since 1996, where she serves as the liaison for LGBT Affairs for the Penn State Hershey Office of Diversity.
"I think [being trans] has helped me in terms of the LGBT community in terms of understanding what all the issues are," said Levine in an interview with The Patriot-News. "And I think I've been able to serve as a mentor and role model to LGBT individuals at the medical center as well as in the community."
The Victory Institute is proud to introduce the 2015 class of David Bohnett LGBT Leadership Fellows. Bohnett Leadership Fellows are senior-level executives working in politics, in government, and at non-profit organizations who receive scholarships to attend an elite executive development program at the Harvard Kennedy School. The intensive program hones Bohnett Fellows’ skills, furthering the leadership potential of these extraordinary individuals. Since 2002, the Victory Institute and the David Bohnett Foundation have sent more than 120 accomplished LGBT professionals to participate in the program.
“Graduates of this program include some of the country’s most visible and successful openly LGBT public leaders. We’re proud to partner with Victory to help them grow their potential to make lasting change,” said Michael Fleming, executive director of the David Bohnett Foundation.
Our 2015 fellows will join the Bohnett alumni network, forging bonds beyond their time at Harvard. Many alumni work together, both in and out of government, to deliver progress for LGBT people and their families.
“The Bohnett Fellows are some of the brightest and most dedicated LGBT leaders in America,” said Aisha Moodie-Mills, president and CEO of the Victory Institute. “The time they spend at Harvard this summer will strengthen the skills they need to serve their communities effectively and help them reach the next step in their careers.”
Since 2000, the David Bohnett Foundation has invested nearly $2 million in LGBT leadership programs run by the Victory Institute, including $1.4 million in the fellowship at Harvard Kennedy School.
Joann Ginal is serving her second term in the Colorado House of Representatives. Representative Ginal has called Fort Collins, Colorado, home for over 25 years, and she has served on City Commissions for nearly two decades. She earned her Doctorate from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Colorado State University, specializing in reproductive endocrinology. Her career in the healthcare/pharmaceutical industry spans 20 years, and she was also an assistant professor at the Florida Institute of Technology. Representative Ginal is one of seven openly LGBT legislators serving Colorado.
Sandra Kurt is the Vice President of the Summit County Council, which serves 541,000 residents of Summit County, Ohio. Councilwoman Kurt is an industrial engineer, and her work improving process efficiency and managing capital investments informs her leadership as Chair of the Public Works committee and Vice-Chair of the Finance Committee. In 2009, she made history as the first openly LGBT person to run for office in Summit County when she won her Ward 8 seat on the Akron City Council. Councilwoman Kurt won election to serve as a Summit County Council Member At-Large in 2011, and she was reelected in 2012 and 2014.
Lynn Schulman is a member of the executive leadership team at Woodhull Medical Center, a public hospital in New York City. On the executive leadership team, she directs marketing, communications, business growth, and government and community affairs. In 2009, Schulman ran for City Council as a Victory Fund-endorsed candidate and came within a few votes of winning the six-way race. A long-time community activist, Schulman has devoted her career to public service and has held a broad range of managerial positions in government, private industry, and the non-profit arena. She lives with her life partner Adelaide and their therapy dog Elvis in Forest Hills, NY.
JoCasta Zamarripa represents the 8th Assembly District as a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly. Representative Zamarripa was born and raised in Milwaukee, graduated from St. Joan Antida High School, and holds a BFA from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. Prior to her service in the State Assembly, she worked as a community outreach coordinator for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin. Representative Zamarripa made history when she became the first Latina elected to the Wisconsin State Legislature in November 2010. In 2012, while running for re-election, she came out publicly as a bisexual woman. She was re-elected to her third term in November of 2014 and serves as Vice-Chair of the Assembly Democratic Caucus.
Glen Dake is a landscape architect at DakeLuna Consultants and a leader in building community-designed landscapes, transportation, and school improvements in the Southern California neighborhoods where he has practiced since 1987. Dake helped found the LA Community Garden Council in 1998 and now serves as president of the council. Between 2001 and 2005, he worked on then-Los Angeles Council Member Eric Garcetti’s staff, where he campaigned successfully for Los Angeles City Proposition O, worked for the adoption of the Renewable Portfolio Standard for energy at LA DWP, and developed thirteen new parks. Dake holds a BS from Cornell University and serves on the Board of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.
David Richardson has represented House District 113 in the Florida House of Representatives since November 2012. During his first term, Representative Richardson filed a bill calling for stricter oversight at the Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, including the establishment of an Office of the Inspector General. In the 2014 Legislative Session, he passed legislation authorizing public health trusts to lease certain real property, requested funds for several local projects, and expanded opportunities for retail pharmacies. He has been a licensed Certified Public Accountant in Florida for 29 years.
Jay Hansen is the Chief Strategy Officer for the California Medical Association. Previously, Hansen served as Special Assistant to four Speakers of the California State Assembly and as State Legislative/Political Director of the Building Trades Council, AFL-CIO. A native Californian, Hansen is an elected Trustee of the Sacramento School District, which serves 43,000 students, and an appointee of Governor Brown to the California Health Facilities Financing Authority. Hansen is a delegate to the California Democratic Party and a member of their Executive Committee. He graduated from Occidental College, received his Master’s from the University of Southern California, and serves on both colleges’ boards.
Lisa Panas is a Captain with the Waukesha County Sheriff's Department. In this capacity, Captain Panas is Director of Police Services for three communities. She has 17 years of experience as a Law Enforcement Officer and has served in significant leadership roles. Captain Panas is focused on community partnerships and relationship building to ensure the best services are provided, and she received the Deputy of the Year Award for her dedication to the department in 2013. Panas holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Marian University and is also a Certified Public Manager through the University of Wisconsin-Madison.