JD Ford becomes first LGBT lawmaker in Mike Pence’s Indiana
Openly gay candidate JD Ford won the race for Indiana’s Senate District 29, unseating longtime Republican Senator Mike Delph.
Ford won 57 percent of the preferences against Delph’s 43 percent in the US midterm elections 2018, held on Tuesday.
He is thought to be the first LGBT lawmaker elected in Indiana, the home state of Vice President Mike Pence.
Who is JD Ford?
A LGBT+ rights activist and openly gay man, Ford campaigned against the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a controversial bill that critics feared could be used to discriminate against LGBT people that Pence signed into law in 2015 while serving as governor of Indiana.
“Tonight, I become Indiana’s first openly gay lawmaker. Ladies and gentlemen, we just made history and no one can take that from us.” Ford said, celebrating the result on Tuesday.
Ford had double reason to celebrate, as the date of the midterm elections 2018 also marked his 36th birthday, as local news outlet Indianapolis Business Journal reported.
Indiana’s LGBT+ non-profit community organisation Indy Pride congratulated Ford on his victory. “Congratulations JD Ford for State Senate on your victory! We are so proud to see such positive representation in our State Senate.”
Social media users also welcomed news of Ford’s victory. “Obviously I’m thrilled that we took the House. But the win I love the most? Bigoted Mike Delph losing his Indiana Senate seat to JD Ford. That’s a solidly R district getting it right. So much to be excited about there!!” one person wrote on Twitter.
“A bright spot for me on the state level in deep red Indiana was the election of JD Ford to the legislature. Openly gay man defeated an entrenched anti-gay bigot, Mike Delph,” another Twitter user remarked.
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The gay candidate was running against Delph for the second time, having lost to the Republican senator by almost 10 percentage points in 2014. At the time, Delph won 54.3 percent of the vote, while Ford earned 45.7 percent.
Ahead of that election, Delph had staunchly opposed same-sex marriage, supporting an amendment that would have defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman. The amendment ultimately failed.
Among his campaign promises, the new LGBT lawmaker pledged to pass hate crimes legislation that includes protection for gender identity and sexual orientation. Indiana is one of five US states without some form of hate crime law.
At the congressional level, however, Indiana voters in the 6th district picked Pence’s younger brother Greg Pence to occupy the seat once held by his sibling. Greg defeated Democratic challenger Jeannine Lake by a large margin, winning more than 60 percent of the vote.