Among the nearly 4,000 Republican state lawmakers expected to serve across the U.S. come this January, none will be openly lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, according to the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund. The development marks the first time in years that an openly LGBT voice will be absent from Republican politics at the state level.
“Unfortunately our endorsed GOP candidates for 2010 lost elections for state legislative positions in Nevada and Michigan, and the three sitting openly gay Republican state senators – in California, Massachusetts and Minnesota – are leaving office at the end of this year,” said James Dozier, deputy political director at the Victory Fund.
Out Democratic lawmakers who have worked on LGBT issues say it would be helpful to have openly LGBT allies across the aisle.
“I’m a Democrat who values working across the aisle to find practical, common sense solutions. To do this effectively, I need Republican counterparts who share my commitment to solving people’s problems. Having out elected Republicans not only protects our democratic process, it protects my ability to keep working for equality,” said Arizona State Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, an openly bisexual lawmaker who was recently elected to the Arizona Senate.
Earlier this year Gay Politics reported on efforts by gay conservatives and the Gay & Lesbian Leadership Institute to attract more LGBT candidates to run for political office. ”They can make a huge difference in their party caucuses, but not unless they have a seat at the table,” Dozier said.
Christian Berle, deputy executive director at Log Cabin Republicans, said that’s one of his group’s goals.
“Log Cabin Republicans was glad to have members from coast to coast running for local, state and federal office and was proud to support their candidacies, often in the face of opposition from many organizations within the gay and lesbian community. We will continue to recruit and support members running for all offices, and look forward to working with the Victory Fund and other pro-equality organizations in electing openly gay and lesbian candidates,” said Berle.
For information on GLLI’s Candidate and Campaign Training dates for 2011, go here.