LGBTQ Candidates Make History in Democratic Primaries Across U.S.

LGBTQ Candidates Make History in Democratic Primaries Across U.S.

- in Politics
Jared Polis/Campaign Site
Jared Polis/Campaign Site

This week, Coloradans made history by choosing Jared Polis to be the Democratic gubernatorial nominee. If Polis wins in November, he would be the first openly gay governor elected in the nation.

LGBTQ people across the country are making history. Just this year, Democrats have nominated more LGBTQ people to statewide office than ever before including three gubernatorial nominees in Colorado, Texas and Oregon.

Here’s a snapshot of some of the new LGBTQ candidate successes so far this primary season:



Jared Polis (Governor): If elected, Polis will become the first openly gay governor elected in the nation.

Brianna Titone (HD-27): If elected, Titone will become the first openly transgender state legislator in Colorado.

Alex Valdez (HD- 05): If elected, Valdez will expand the already diverse LGBTQ caucus of the Colorado House of Representatives, adding an important LGBTQ Latinx voice to the table.


Gabriel Acevero (HD-39): If elected, Acevero will become the first openly gay Afro-Latino elected to the Maryland General Assembly.


Derek Kitchen (SD-02): If elected in November, Kitchen will be the only openly LGBTQ member of the Utah state legislature.



Felicia Stewart (HD-46): If elected, Stewart will become Alabama’s second openly LGBTQ legislator.


Tippi McCullough (HD-33): Facing no Republican opposition in November, McCullough will become the only openly LGBTQ person in the Arkansas state legislature. McCullough’s win comes 5 years after she was forced to resign her teaching job because she was LGBTQ.


Ricardo Lara (CA Insurance Commissioner): If elected, Lara will become California’s first LGBTQ statewide elected official, and the only LGBTQ person of color elected to statewide office in the nation.

Katie Hill (CA-25): If Hill prevails over Republican Steve Knight, she will become California’s first openly LGBTQ congresswoman.

Numerous LGBTQ candidates are poised to make the California state legislature even more diverse including:

  • Joy Silver (SD-28)

  • Sonia Aery (AD-3)

  • Jackie Smith (AD-6)

  • Sunday Gover (AD-77)


Matthew Wilson (HD-58): If elected, Wilson will join numerous openly LGBTQ officials pushing back on Georgia Republicans’ anti-LGBTQ legislative agenda. Georgia’s LGBTQ caucus is among the most diverse LGBTQ caucuses in the nation, including:

  • Park Cannon (HD-58):  first openly queer woman of color elected in Georgia

  • Sam Park (HD-101): first openly gay Asian American elected in Georgia and first openly gay man elected to the state legislature

  • Renitta Shannon (HD-84): first openly bisexual woman of color to serve in Georgia.

  • Karla Drennan (HD-85): first openly lesbian member of the Georgia House of Representatives


J.D. Ford (SD-29):  If elected, Ford will become the first out member of the Indiana state Senate.

Indiana Democrats have also nominated 3 candidates for the Indiana state House, who would all make history together as the first openly LGBTQ members of the body:

  • Thomasina Marsili (HD-46)

  • Joe Lannan (HD-63)

  • Sarah Stivers (HD-70)


Lamont Robinson (HD-05): If elected, Robinson will become the first openly gay African-American state legislator in Illinois history.

Maggie Trevor (HD-54): If elected, Trevor will become the 2nd openly LGBTQ woman in the Illinois General Assembly, joining Kelly Cassidy.


Amelia Marquez (HD-52): If elected in November, Amelia will not only flip another legislative from red-to-blue, but also become Montana’s first openly transgender legislator, and dependant on other elections, the nation’s second openly transgender state legislator.


Nelson Araujo (Secretary of State): If elected, Araujo will not only flip the Secretary of State’s office from red to blue but also become the state’s first openly LGBTQ statewide official and one of the first LGBTQ people of color elected to statewide office in the nation.


Joshua Boschee (Secretary of State): If elected, Boschee will become one of the youngest statewide officials in North Dakota and the state’s first openly LGBTQ statewide official.


Rick Neal (OH-15): If elected, Neal will beocme the first openly LGBTQ person elected to Congress from Ohio. Neal will be challenging NRCC Chairman Steve Stivers.

Nickie Antonio (SD-23): Antonio became the first openly LGBTQ candidate elected to the Ohio House of Representatives in 2010. If elected, she will also become the first openly LGBTQ person elected to the Ohio state Senate.


Malcolm Kenyatta (HD-181): Kenyatta overcame an overtly bigoted smear campaign and if elected, will become the Pennsylvania House’s first openly LGBTQ person of color. Kenyatta also served a delegate to the 2016 Democratic National Convention hosted by the DNC.

Kristen Seale (HD-168): Seale is the first openly queer Democratic nominee in Pennsylvania. If elected, she will be the first openly LGBTQ woman in the Pennsylvania state House.

Daniel Smith Jr. (HD-12): Smith is challenging Republican Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, one of the most anti-LGBTQ state legislators in Pennsylvania, who sued to prevent a gay couple from marrying, introduced legislation banning same-sex marriage and said openly gay Rep. Brian Sims was a “lying homosexual” and “in open rebellion against God’s law.”


Jamie McLeod-Skinner (OR-02):  McLeod-Skinner was the first out lesbian elected to the Santa Clara City Council and will be taking on Congressman Greg Walden, former chair of the NRCC. If elected, McLeod Skinner would become the first openly LGBTQ person elected to Congress from Oregon.


North Carolina Democrats have nominated a candidate in every single legislative district this year, including more LGBTQ people than ever, including:

  • Brandon Anderson (SD-45)

  • Cecil Brockman (HD-60)

  • Deb Butler (HD-18)

  • Linda Bennett (HD-26)

  • Allison Dahle (HD-11)

  • Marcia Morgan (HD-19)

  • Dan Whitten (HD-15)


Lupe Valdez: Lupe Valdez became the first openly lesbian gubernatorial nominee of any major party. If elected, she would also be the first openly LGBTQ person of color to serve as governor and the first Latinx to serve as governor of Texas.

Gina Ortiz Jones (TX-23): If elected, Ortiz Jones would be Congress’ first openly LGBTQ woman of color and first openly LGBTQ Asian American woman.

Eric Holguin (TX-27):  If elected, Holguin would become Congress’ first openly LGBTQ Latinx congressman and the first openly gay Latinx man in Congress.

Lorie Burch (TX-03): If elected, Burch would be among the first LGBTQ congresswomen from Texas.



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