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Topics In the News
 
2012 Congressional Elections Present Opportunity
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 07/18/12
Last updated on: 07/18/12
 
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Representative Tammy Baldwin.

The 2012 Congressional elections present an historic opportunity to increase glbtq representation as more openly gay candidates are standing for office. It is, however, possible that the small number of glbtq members of Congress may actually decrease, declining from 4 to 1.

Chris Geidner reports at Buzzfeed that "This year's general election will feature the most out lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender congressional candidates ever before in the country's history, as being out recedes as a limitation on running for office in much of America."

Depending on the results of primaries, between six and 13 out glbtq candidates will face the voters in November. The previous general election with the most out candidates for Congress was in 2010, when five out candidates ran and four won their bids for office.

It is possible, however, that the number of out Congress members could actually decrease. Representative Barney Frank is retiring; Representative David Cicilline faces a difficult re-election bid; and Representative Tammy Baldwin is giving up her safe seat in the House in order to run for the U.S. Senate. If Baldwin and Cicilline lose and none of the non-incumbents win, that would leave Representative Jared Polis of Colorado, who faces no serious election challengers, as the only out member of Congress in January 2013.

The last time there was only one openly gay member of Congress was in 1987, before Representative Barney Frank came out and joined the late Representative Gerry Studds.

However, Polis, who has been active in recruiting and supporting Democratic candidates for Congress, including several who are gay, sees that possibility as remote.

The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund finds optimism in the latest fundraising numbers, which show that that their endorsed candidates all are outraising their opponents.

The Victory Fund has endorsed Baldwin's Senate bid; Polis and Cicilline's re-election bids; and non-incumbents Sean Patrick Maloney in New York, Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, Mark Takano of California, and Richard Tisei of Massachusetts.

In addition to these candidates, the following are also thought to be highly competitive in their races: Nicole Le Favour of Idaho, Richard Tisei of Massachusetts, Trevor Thomas of Michigan, and Jeff Anderson of Minnesota.

Geidner quotes glbtq.com contributor Don Haider-Markel of the University of Kansas, author of Out and Running about gay and lesbian candidates and representation, as saying that out candidates matter. As Haider-Markel observes in his glbtq.com entry Elected Officials, "Research shows that the presence of openly glbtq officials in local government increases the likelihood that localities will adopt policies favoring glbtq people, including benefits for domestic partners. Thus, the election of openly gay and lesbian officials not only offers symbolic recognition of the acceptability of homosexuality in American life, but it also concretely furthers policy goals of the glbtq community and political movement."

The video below explains the hisory and mission of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund.

In the video below, David Mixner, founding Chair of the Board of the Victory Fund, speaks at the 2011 Victory Fund National Champagne Brunch.

 
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