US city elects first trans mayor as Congress loses gay marriage opponent
After the euphoria surrounding the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States and the disappointment of a ban on gay marriage passing in California, more information about Election Day is proving inspirational for gay Americans.
Marilyn Musgrave lost her US House seat in Colorado, bringing to an halt the Congressional career of one of the most outspoken opponents of gay equality.
She was a leading advocate of the failed Federal Marriage Amendment, which she introduced in 2003.
It called for a constitutional amendment that would have defined marriage as “the union of a man and a woman.”
The city of Silverton, Oregon, has elected the country’s first openly transgender mayor.
Stu Rasmussen, 60, served as mayor twice before, elected in 1988 and again in 1990, but that was before he underwent breast enhancement surgery and started to be more open about his trans status.
On Tuesday he unseated incumbent mayor Ken Hector by 1,988 votes to 1,512.
“I am a dude,” he said, according to the IHT.
“I am a heterosexual male who appears to be a female.”
“Some guys’ mid-life crisis is motorcycles or sports cars or climbing mountains or trophy wives or whatever.” Rasmussen told kgw.com. “I always wanted cleavage, so I went out and acquired some.”
Dozens of openly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender candidates won election to public offices across the US on Tuesday, according to the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund.
The group, which endorsed a record-breaking 111 candidates in 2008, said more than 70 percent of its endorsed candidates had won their races.
“This was a watershed election,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund.
“Our government became more representative and our democracy became stronger.
“As we near the 30th anniversary of the death of Harvey Milk, it’s enormously gratifying to see his dream realised in so many brave men and women heeding the call to run for office, and doing so openly, honestly and unafraid.”
Milk, a San Francisco Supervisor who was one of the first openly gay elected officials in the US, was shot dead in San Francisco City Hall in November 1978. Milk urged his contemporaries to embrace the power of electoral politics as a path to change.
Among the winners in 2008:
Jared Polis of Colorado became the first openly gay man elected to the US Congress as a non-incumbent.
He joins Rep. Barney Frank and Rep. Tammy Baldwin, both re-elected on Tuesday night, as the only openly LGBT Members of Congress.
Kate Brown became the first openly LGBT Secretary of State in the US, and the second-highest ranking elected official in the state of Oregon. Brown is openly bisexual.
Jason Bartlett, who came out as gay in his current term, was re-elected to the Connecticut State House. He is only the second openly gay African-American state legislator in the US.
Thomas Robichaux and Seth Bloom, both gay men, simultaneously became the first-ever openly LGBT elected officials in the state of Louisiana when they were elected to the Orleans Parish School Board in an October primary.
John Perez became the first openly gay person of colour elected to the California Assembly.
Lupe Valdez was re-elected to a second term as sheriff of Dallas County, Texas. First elected in 2004, Valdez was the first woman, the first Latina and the first out lesbian ever to win the post.
Kevin Beckner won a seat on the Hillsborough County Commission in Florida, unseating an anti-gay incumbent and becoming the first openly gay man elected in the county.
Rebecca Kaplan will be the first out lesbian to serve on the Oakland, Calif. City Council after winning her race on Tuesday.
In the closing days of the election season Victory Fund candidates in Michigan, Oklahoma, South Carolina and elsewhere were subject to gay-baiting political attacks.
“This election was an affirmation of the African-American civil rights movement that is more than a century old,” said Mr Wolfe.
“The LGBT movement is much younger, and it’s clear we still have much work to do to win true equality. The politics of fear and bigotry are not yet behind us, and we saw some heartbreaking examples of that in this election.
“On a day that demonstrated Americans’ commitment to inclusivity and equality, the sabotage of several openly LGBT candidates and the devastating outcomes of three statewide marriage bans were disappointingly inconsistent.
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“I am confident that history will give us an opportunity to right those wrongs as we continue the journey toward full equality for all Americans.”
In Oklahoma, Corporation Commissioner Jim Roth was narrowly defeated in a statewide race after last-minute attack ads and mailers suggested he would push a ‘homosexual agenda’ in his role as a regulator of the state’s energy industry.
Garnet Lewis, who was seeking a seat in the Michigan State House, was subject to an onslaught of anti-gay attacks in print and radio media outlets during the final week of her campaign. She lost her race.
Full election results are available at www.victoryfund.org.
A dot indicates the candidate won his or her race.