Last week’s news that Southhaven, Miss., Mayor Greg Davis informed a local newspaper that he is gay means just two U.S. states remain on the list of those with no openly LGBT elected officials–Alaska and South Dakota.
That doesn’t mean these states aren’t served by LGBT elected officials, just that none have self-identified publicly either in speeches or in the media. But one group that supports out elected officials says there’s a reason this matters.
“It’s important that people know there are LGBT people serving in public office, especially in their own communities. That doesn’t mean that LGBT issues are front and center in their work. In some cases just being open and honest about that part of our lives has great potential to deepen understanding of our community, and that makes a huge difference,” said Tiffany Muller, Vice President for Programs at the Victory Institute.
The Victory Institute maintains the most up-to-date database of out LGBT officials available, and in recent years elected officials in states like Kansas, South Carolina, West Virginia and North Dakota have been added. The group has a goal in 2012 of having identified at least one out elected official in every state in the U.S. ”That will mark a really significant milestone for LGBT Americans, and it will be a symbol of how far we’ve come as a country,” Muller said.