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social sciences

Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

Subjects:  A-E  F-L  M-Z

     
Elected Officials  
 
page: 1  2  

State Officials

A number of glbtq persons have been elected to state legislatures and even executive branch positions. The first openly gay state legislators were Elaine Noble (Massachusetts House) and Allan Spear (Minnesota Senate). Noble came out first in 1974 as an open lesbian after being elected and went on to serve two terms. Spear was first elected to the state senate in 1972 and came out in 1974, continuing to serve until he retired in 2000. The first state legislator in the country was Althea Garrison, elected in 1992, who served one term in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

There have been only a few glbtq public officials in executive positions at the state level. Ed Flanagan, Vermont Auditor of Accounts, is still the only openly gay person to be elected to a statewide office by a vote of the people. Flanagan was elected in 1992, but he did not come out as openly gay until 1995. After coming out Flanagan was reelected in 1996 and 1998.

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Congressmen

By 2003, there were three openly glbtq serving in Congress, including Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), the first open lesbian elected to Congress, and the first non-incumbent openly glbtq person elected to Congress.

The first openly gay member of Congress was Rep. Gerry Studds (D-MA). Studds was not openly gay when he was first elected, but he revealed that he was gay in July 1983. After coming out he was reelected every election cycle through 1994 and retired in 1996.

Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) was the second openly gay member of Congress after he came out in May 1987. He continues to win reelection easily.

Following Frank, two incumbent Republican members of Congress came out in the 1990s. Both were in effect outed.

As he faced reelection in 1994, after gay activists threatened to out him for not having been supportive of glbtq issues, Rep. Steve Gunderson (R-WI) revealed his sexual orientation. He thus became the first openly gay Republican member of Congress. He was reelected in 1994, but retired in 1996.

Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) was confronted with a difficult decision in 1996, either publicly announce that he was gay, or wait and answer questions following the publication in the Advocate of an article outing him. Rep. Kolbe chose to make a public announcement himself and has been reelected ever since.

Significantly, following their outing, both Gunderson and Kolbe became more supportive of the glbtq community than they had been when they were still closeted.

Finally, although no openly glbtq person has yet been elected to the U. S. Senate, the number of openly glbtq candidates for both the House and the Senate has been on the increase since 1996.

There have been a number of closeted members of Congress, some of whom were outed as a result of sexual indiscretions or by activists because they failed to support glbtq issues.

Increasing Numbers

In 1987 the glbtq movement could claim 20 openly glbtq elected officials in the country. In 1991 that number had risen to 52. By April 1998 there were at least 146 openly glbtq elected officials in 27 states and the District of Columbia, and by 2002 that number had risen to 205 and increased to 245 by November 2003.

In 2000, there were a number of notable glbtq candidates, including the first openly glbtq major party nominee for the U.S. Senate (Ed Flanagan, Vermont Democrat), the first transgendered person to be a major party nominee for the U.S. House (Karen Kerin, Vermont Republican), three incumbent members of Congress, and six additional challengers for congressional seats, a third-party presidential nominee (David McReynolds, Socialist Party USA), 32 state legislators seeking re-election, and 31 challengers for state legislative seats.

During the 2001-2002 election cycle, there were at least 135 glbtq candidates on the ballot, and that number increased to more than 160 in the 2003-2004 cycle.

Over 90 percent of these officials and candidates are Democrats, but there are notable glbtq Republicans at every level of government. One figure is Dan Stewart, who was elected mayor of Plattsburgh, New York in 1999, and has gained significant status in the state Republican Party. Likewise, Republican Neil Giuliano, mayor of Tempe, Arizona, received considerable attention after coming out in 1997. He was easily reelected in 1998 and 2000. Giuliano even survived a recall election in September 2001, which he won handily with 68 percent of the vote.

Glbtq candidates have achieved some significant successes at the ballot box, running for and winning local, state, and national elections. These successes are a barometer of the progress of the glbtq movement for equality.

Donald P. Haider-Markel

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    Bibliography
   

Bailey, Robert W. Gay Politics, Urban Politics: Identity and Economics in an Urban Setting. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999.

Bull, Chris, and John Gallagher. Perfect Enemies: The Religious Right, the Gay Movement, and the Politics of the 1990s. New York: Crown, 1996.

Button, James W., Barbara A. Rienzo, and Kenneth D. Wald. Private Lives, Public Conflicts: Battles Over Gay Rights in American Communities. Washington, D. C.: Q Press, 1997.

Golebiowska, Ewa A. "Group Stereotypes and Political Evaluation." American Politics Research 29.6 (2001): 535-65.

Haider-Markel, Donald P, Mark R. Joslyn, and Chad J. Kniss. "Minority Group Interests and Political Representation: Gay Elected Officials in the Policy Process." The Journal of Politics 62.2 (2000): 568-77.

Rayside, David Morton. On the Fringe: Gays and Lesbians in Politics. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1998.

Riggle, Ellen D. B., and Barry L. Tadlock, eds. Gays and Lesbians in the Democratic Process. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999.

Rimmerman, Craig A. From Identity to Politics: The Lesbian and Gay Movements in the United States. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2002.

_____, Kenneth D. Wald, and Clyde Wilcox, eds. The Politics of Gay Rights. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

Smith, Raymond A., and Donald P. Haider-Markel. Gay and Lesbian Americans and Political Participation. Denver: ABC-CLIO Publishers, 2002.

Vaid, Urvashi. Virtual Equality: The Mainstreaming of Gay and Lesbian Liberation. New York: Anchor Books, 1995.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Haider-Markel, Donald P.  
    Entry Title: Elected Officials  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated January 15, 2013  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/social-sciences/elected_officials.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
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Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  
 

 

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