The US elections have seen LGBTQ+ politicians elected at federal and state levels. (Getty)
Numerous LGBTQ+ candidates have smashed the rainbow ceiling and won seats in the 2022 US elections.
Counting is still underway in the tense midterm elections, with Americans watching with bated breath to find out whether Republicans or Democrats will win control of the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Votes are also being counted in the race for state legislatures and governor seats, among others.
On Wednesday morning (9 November), it was too close to call an overall victory for one party or the other. But what’s clear is that LGBTQ+ candidates are streaking ahead, according to the Victory Fund,
More than 290 candidates endorsed by the LGBTQ+ political advocacy group have already been elected across state and federal level. Among the winners are first-time members of congress, trans trailblazers and lesbian governors.
One of the biggest LGBTQ+ victories was Robert Garcia, the current mayor of Long Beach, California. He beat Republican businessman John Briscoe to win a seat in the US House of Representatives, according to early predictions which showed he had a 2-1 lead over his opponent. He’ll become the first LGBTQ+ immigrant in Congress, having moved to the US from Peru as a child.
‘Immigrant kid’ Robert Garcia paid tribute to his mother after victory in US midterm elections
In a speech to his supporters shortly after results started rolling in, Garcia thanked his husband and his family. He went on to describe serving as mayor of Long Beach as an “honour”.
“As an immigrant kid that came to this country at five years old, I will never be able to give back to this country what it’s given my family, myself, and all the opportunities that have been afforded to us in the best country on the planet, the United States of America,” he said.
He dedicated his victory to his mother, describing her as a “hard-working woman” who worked in clinics and cleaned houses.
Mom, we did it! pic.twitter.com/bqwwHMbhl5
— Robert Garcia (@RobertGarcia) November 9, 2022
Closing out his speech, Garcia brought his family up on stage and implored the audience to “remember what patriotism actually is”.
“Do not forget that patriotism has never been, and is not today, about individualism. Patriotism has never been and is not today about just caring about yourself and your family. That is actually not patriotism.”
Maura Healey becomes first lesbian governor
Another extraordinary LGBTQ+ victory came with the election of Maura Healey as governor of Massachusetts. Her win ended eight years of Republican control in the governor’s office and she became the state’s first openly lesbian leader as well as the first female governor.
In her victory speech, Healey said: “Tonight I want to say something to every little girl and every young LGBTQ person out there: I hope tonight shows you that you can be whatever, whoever, you want to be.”
She told LGBTQ+ youth that “nothing and no one can ever get in your way, except your own imagination”.
“Tonight, to all of you, and to all of you out there, with the help of so many, we made history. Didn’t we? We made history!
“I stand before you tonight proud to be the first woman and the first gay person ever elected governor of Massachusetts.”
We might be the first, but we won’t be the last.
To every little girl out there, we want you to know — there’s no ceiling you can’t break. pic.twitter.com/nbCypzP3ZD
— Maura Healey (@maura_healey) November 9, 2022
Becca Balint becomes first openly gay person elected in Vermont
Elsewhere, Becca Balint won a seat in the House of Representatives in Vermont, making her the first woman and first LGBTQ+ person ever elected to congress in the state.
In a heartfelt Instagram post after early predictions showed her Republican opponent was trailing far behind, Balint wrote: “Today, we reaffirmed that Vermont, and this nation, is still a place where anything is possible. We’re still capable of change and progress.
“Tonight, after 231 years, Vermonters are sending a woman and openly gay person to Congress for the first time.”
She went on to thank her wife and children “for always supporting me through this tough and incredible journey”.
Balint promised to fight for universal healthcare, liveable wages, reproductive rights, for the safety of queer and trans people and for racial equity in her post.
She also said she would fight for “common-sense gun laws”.
Trans man James Roesener elected
There were also victories in state legislatures – in New Hampshire, James Roesener emerged victorious, making him the first openly trans man to join a state legislature in the entire United States.
Annise Parker, president and CEO of the Victory Fund, said his win proved that America is “ready for trans men leaders in our state legislatures”.
“From safeguarding reproductive rights to increasing investment in New Hampshire’s education and health care systems, James is well prepared to enact legislation that will deliver lasting results for his community.
“At a time of intensifying transphobia east at all levels of government and society, he showed incredible courage throughout his historic campaign.
“Trans people – and trans men in particular – remain severely underrepresented in government at every level, but we are confident his win will inspire many more trans people to run for office.”