by Mike Andrew -
SGN Staff Writer
Within the 'blue wave' that swept Democrats into control of the US House of Representatives was a rainbow wave that brought a record number of LGBT candidates into office.
In Colorado, Rep. Jared Polis became the first out Gay man elected governor of a US state. Former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey, also a Democrat, came out as Gay while in office in 2004.
Polis, a Democrat who has served in the House of Representatives since 2009, used his sexual orientation to emphasize the contrast between himself and Donald Trump's administration.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, also a Democrat, is openly Bisexual, which made her the first openly LGBT person elected governor in 2016, when she was elected to serve out the term of John Kitzhaber when he resigned. She won election to a full term this year.
In Michigan, Lesbian attorney Dana Nessel - who represented plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriage - was elected attorney general.
She said the case influenced her to run for office. She said Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette 'made a mockery of state government' by bringing social scientists to court to knock the parenting skills of same-sex couples.
Schuette was defeated by Democrat Gretchen Whitmer in the race for Michigan governor.
Wisconsin's Lesbian senator Tammy Baldwin was re-elected to the US Senate, and, as the SGN goes to press, Bisexual Democrat Kyrstin Sinema has pulled ahead of her rival in the race for US senator from Arizona.
Kansas voters make history
In Kansas, of all places, Native American Lesbian Sharice Davids was elected to a congressional seat.
Davids, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, will be the first Native American woman to serve in Congress - a distinction she shares with New Mexico's Deb Haaland, who also won election this year - and the first openly LGBT person to represent the state of Kansas.
The political newcomer defeated four-term incumbent Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder to capture Kansas' 3rd Congressional District.
'It's significant beyond Kansas,' said Davis Hammett, an LGBT rights activist from Topeka. 'This is significant to all LGBT folks in the Midwest. She really feels like the voice for all the LGBT folks in the Midwest. And I know that there's a similar feeling in Native American communities.'
Malcolm Kenyatta became the first LGBT black man elected to the Pennsylvania state legislature. Kenyatta will succeed his cousin, W. Curtis Thomas, who has occupied the seat since 1989, according to Philadelphia magazine.
Though Kenyatta will be the first openly Gay person of color in the state legislature, he's not its first LGBT member. That distinction belongs to Democrat Brian Sims, who in 2012 was elected to represent the 182nd District. Sims was re-elected to that post on Tuesday.
The dual victory means that, for the first time, two openly Gay lawmakers will sit in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
Lesbian Angie Craig defeated an extreme anti-LGBT congressman in Minnesota, becoming the first openly LGBT person elected to Congress from that state.
This was the second time Lewis and Craig have battled for the suburban Twin Cities swing seat. Lewis - who has compared Gay people with 'rapists' and has denounced same-sex marriage - bested Craig by just two percentage points in 2016.
Democrat Chris Pappas will become New Hampshire's first openly Gay member of Congress after defeating Republican Eddie Edwards in the state's 1st Congressional District.
While both candidates said they want to bring integrity and decency to Washington, Pappas argued only he had the experience to back that up. In addition to running a family restaurant, he is a former state lawmaker who serves on the Executive Council, approving state contracts and nominations.
Also, Democrats Susan Ruiz and Brandon Woodard become the first LGBTQ members of the Kansas state legislature.
In other state legislative races, two Transgender women, Gerri Cannon and Lisa Bunker, were elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives, winning seats in the Strafford 18 and Rockingham 18 districts, respectively. According to the Los Angeles Blade, Cannon and Bunker will join Virginia state Delegate Danica Roem as the only openly Trans members of any US state legislature.
Roem, who made history last year when she was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, celebrated the two women's victories on Twitter on Tuesday night.
'Pretty soon, I will no longer the only out Transgender state legislator in the country... and that is wonderful!' Roem wrote.
Christine Hallquist, first Transgender nominee for governor of Vermont, lost to incumbent Republican Phil Scott. Hallquist, a former utility executive who was a relative unknown at the start her Democratic campaign, won 40% of the votes.
'I wouldn't change anything, and everything about the campaign was exciting and rewarding, except for the losing part,' Hallquist told reporters.
Zach Wahls elected to Iowa legislature
In Iowa, LGBT ally Zach Wahls was elected to the Iowa State Senate, becoming one of the youngest faces in that body at 26.
At his election night watch party at Big Grove Brewery, Wahls said he was pleased with voter turnout, particularly from young people.
'We smashed voter turnout from 2014,' Wahls said. 'Iowa students really delivered.'
In 2011, Wahls stood on the political stage for the first time with a speech in front of a state legislative committee to argue against a proposed constitutional amendment that would have banned gay marriage. A video of the speech went viral, amassing almost two million views in two weeks.
Wahls is the co-founder of Scouts for Equality, an advocacy group dedicated to ending discrimination in the Boy Scouts of America.
Massachusetts OKs Trans protections
In Massachusetts, voters sustained a 2016 law barring discrimination in access to public facilities on the basis of gender identity. Ballot Question 3 asked voters if they wanted to keep the law.
'By winning the first statewide popular vote on transgender rights, Massachusetts voters reaffirmed our Commonwealth as a place that fiercely defends our basic values of dignity and respect for everyone,' the ACLU said in a statement.
'When Massachusetts leads on equality, the nation watches - and often, it follows. Tonight, we sent a message not just to transgender people and their families and friends here in Massachusetts but to the entire country. At a time when transgender rights are being threatened nationally, we absolutely must preserve the rights we have secured at the state level.'
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