Openly gay state representatives and
senators increased by forty seats nationwide in last night's historic
Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund President
Chuck Wolfe called 2008 a “watershed election” for gay
“Our government became more
representative and our democracy became stronger,” Wolfe said. “As
we near the 30th anniversary of the death of Harvey Milk,
it's enormously gratifying to see this dream realized in so many
brave men and women heeding the call to run for office, and doing so
openly, honestly and unafraid.”
Candidates vying for state
representative or assemblyman won as many as thirty seats, while the
ranks of openly gay senators increased by another ten members
The New England states of Maine, New
Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut led
the nation with approving the highest number of openly gay members to
their state assemblies; the region generated a total of fourteen
In Massachusetts, U.S. Representative
Barney Frank cruised to an easy victory Tuesday to retain his seat in
Congress. Add to that four out of the five Gay and Lesbian Victory
Fund endorsed state representative candidates winning, with only Sara
Orozco losing her bid for state senator. Democrats Carl Sciortino,
Sarah Peake, Kate Hogan and Cheryl Coakley-Rivera each won a seat in
the state House.
In Connecticut, all three of the
state's openly gay representatives won re-election – Democrats Mike
Lawlor, Beth Bye and Jason Bartlett. Jason Bartlett remains one of
only two openly gay African-American legislators in the nation.
Bartlett came out to a whimper of media
attention during his freshman term as state representative, but told
us he did not believe sexual orientation made a difference to voters
in re-electing him. “I believe that there was more vitriol and
negative attacks to try to take advantage of that fact, but in the
end it was not addressed in any public forum and had no impact on the
voters,” Bartlett said in an email.
New Hampshire will be sending three
openly gay candidates to Concord. Three Democrats, David Pierce and
Jim Splaine and Ed Butler, each won a seat in the state House.
Larry Bliss (D) won his race for a
Maine Senate seat. And Democrat Frank Ferri secured one of the
seventy-five Rhode Island House seats.
Gay candidates in New York and
California took a total of nine state seats.
In the Empire State, three openly gay
state assemblymen will be heading to Albany. Democrat Daniel
O'Donnel won his fourth term as assemblyman and will be joined by
Micah Kellner (D) and Matt Titone (D). In the New York Senate,
Thomas Duane, who became the first openly gay/openly HIV-positive New
York state senator in 1998, was re-elected.
Voters in California approved all four
of their openly gay candidates, where Democrat Tom Ammiano will be
filling the seat vacated by Assemblyman Mark Leno, who won his run
for state senator. Christine Kehoe (D) will join Leno in the state
Senate, while John Perez will join Ammiano in the state House.
Out west, Colorado had a good showing
too, where Democrat Jared Polis won his Congressional House bid to
become the first openly gay male representative to Congress.
(Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank confirmed he's gay while
serving his second term.) Additionally, voters chose to retain
Representative Mark Ferrandino (D) and take a shot at freshman
Representative Sue Schaefer (D).
And in McCain country two more
Democrats Matt Heinz and Kyrsten Sinema won seats to the Arizona
Another nine openly gay representatives
were elected last night in various other states including Democrats
Kathy Webb of Arkansas, Jackie Biskupski and Christine Johnson of
Utah, Jamie Pedersen and Marko Liias of Washington, Deborah Mell and
Greg Harris of Illinois and Michael Colona and Jeanette Mott-Oxford
And five openly gay state senators were
approved by voters including Democrats Julia Boseman from North
Carolina, Nicole LeFavour of Idaho, Joe McDermott of Washington,
David Parks of Nevada and Christine Kaufmann of Montana.
Wisconsin's openly lesbian
Representative Tammy Baldwin was re-elected to Congress, but South
Carolina's Linda Ketner (D) lost her bid to incumbent Congressman