While political parity remains an
elusive goal for the gay community, the number of openly gay elected
officials has surged over the past decade.
In the United States, many of the
country's most successful out politicians received help from the Gay
& Lesbian Victory Fund, a group dedicated to supporting
openly gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender candidates.
Later this month, the group returns to
Fort Lauderdale to put on its 17th annual Gay
& Lesbian Leadership Institute (GLLI) Candidate & Campaign
Training, where attendees learn how to press the flesh from
proven campaign professionals.
Steve Kornell, who fought off anti-gay
attacks to win a seat on the St. Petersburg, Florida City Council
last November, is expected to address attendees.
While there are no official statistics,
the number of openly gay candidates has steadily increased. For
instance, last week's Democratic primary in Illinois included 14 such
candidates running for various offices (attorney Jacob Meister, who
was running for the Senate seat once occupied by President Obama,
dropped out three days before the primary, leaving 13 official
candidates on the ballot).
New York City Council doubled its GLBT
caucus to four members in 2009 after eight openly gay candidates ran
But the largest prize to be had last
year occurred in the red meat state of Texas.
Despite an avalanche of anti-gay
rhetoric from social conservatives, Annise Parker, an openly lesbian
politician, was installed as mayor of Houston, the fourth largest
city in the nation, on January 2, 2010, with her partner by her side.
“The GLLI has trained hundreds of
openly LGBT candidates and campaign workers on how to build winning
campaigns,” event coordinator Martin Garcia told On Top Magazine
in a recent interview.
Garcia then ticked off a who's who of
gay politicians, including Wisconsin Representative Tammy Baldwin,
Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez and Detroit City Council President
Attendees, Garcia said, “learn about
skills and strategy by engaging in tough, realistic campaign
The trend is not confined to the United
States. Openly gay elected officials throughout Europe have achieved
new heights of political power. Last year, voters in Iceland elected
an openly gay prime minister. Germany's foreign minister is gay.
And both Berlin and Paris have openly gay politicians at the city
The Victory Fund's four-day workshop
for openly gay candidates begins on February 25 in Fort Lauderdale.
Trainings will also take place in Minneapolis in June and the
District of Columbia in December.