An organisation dedicated to increasing the number of openly LGBT elected officials at all levels in the United States has announced that it will be backing a record number of candidates in 2007.

The Gay Lesbian Victory Fund, who provide strategic, technical and financial support, has announced ten new endorsements, bringing the number of supported candidates to 71.

Among them are Steve Pougnet, Mayor of Palm Springs, California; William “Bill” Schmidt, Mayor of Peekskill, New York and Jass Stewart, Mayor of Brockton, Massachusetts.

71 supported candidates is a new record for an odd-numbered year ie: a year in which there are no scheduled federal elections.

At last month’s Labour party conference a campaign fund was announced, Dorothy’s List, which will support LGBT candidates standing to represent the party in Parliament.

The US the Gay Lesbian Victory Fund supports candidates from across the political divide.

Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund, said this breakthrough year is another sign gays and lesbians are embracing the power of participating fully in the decision making process by getting elected to public office.

“Our community increasingly understands that politics is a path to equality,” said Wolfe.

“Having a place at the table of power also means we have an equal voice and an equal vote. That’s long overdue, and it leads to real change.

“In 2007, dozens of pro-equality laws were passed in cities and states where openly gay elected officials served as powerful examples for their colleagues. Being there makes a difference,”

The Victory Fund expects to endorse more than 100 candidates in 2008.

Six US states still have no openly LGBT elected officials at any level of government: Alaska, Louisiana, North Dakota, South Dakota, South Carolina and West Virginia.

Tennessee came off the list this year when Keith Durbin was elected to the Nashville City Council.

In addition to those six states, 13 others have no openly LGBT members of their state legislatures, including Florida and Pennsylvania.

Since its founding in 1991, the Victory Fund has helped to grow the number of out officials from 49 to more than 380.