Entries from: LGBT Elected Officials

Gay San Diego city councilman to become acting mayor

tgloriaatsdbrunch (800x533)San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria, who is openly gay, has become the city’s acting mayor now that the embattled former mayor, Bob Filner, has resigned his post.

Filner vacated his office under a deal reached in an ongoing saga over allegations he sexually harassed numerous women.

Gloria is serving his second term on the Council after winning reelection in 2012.  His colleagues elected him council president last December.  Prior to his first election to the Council in 2008, Todd served as district director to U.S. Rep. Susan A. Davis ( D-Calif.), and worked for the County of San Diego’s Health and Human Services Agency.

A special election will be called to replace Filner.

San Diego, the 8th largest city in America, has actually been served by an openly LGBT acting mayor once before.  State Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins, an out lesbian, lead the city briefly in 2005 after a series of scandals left the mayor’s office vacant.

This post has been updated to reflect the  latest developments in San Diego.

Out N.Y. officials ask Obama to halt Russian diplomacy

quinn obamaNine openly LGBT elected officials from New York City have written to President Barack Obama urging him to delay diplomatic missions to Russia.  The lawmakers say a recent crackdown on LGBT activism is a violation of human rights that should not be rewarded with official visits by American dignitaries.

“As then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on behalf of your administration, ‘Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights. It should never be a crime to be gay.’ Given that President Putin and Russia have enacted laws to criminalize gay people and supporters and deny human rights to their LGBT citizens, they should not be the beneficiary of any trip by your office until they fully restore all civil rights to LGBT people in their country,” the group wrote, according to the blog Joe. My. God.

The letter was signed by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (pictured), state Sen. Brad Hoylman, Assemblywoman Deborah J. Glick, Assemblyman Matthew Titone, Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell, Assemblyman Micah Kellner, and City Council members Jimmy Van Bramer, Rosie Mendez, and Daniel Dromm.

Pocan seeks protections for homeless LGBT youth

pocanU.S. Reps. Mark Pocan (who is openly gay) and Gwen Moore, both Wisconsin Democrats, last week introduced legislation that would bar homeless shelters that receive federal funds from discriminating against LGBT youth, and require them to gain competency in serving their unique needs.

“Homelessness is one of the most pressing matters affecting LGBT youth,” Pocan told the Washington Blade. “Young people in the LGBT community are disproportionately at-risk for homelessness, often as a result of the rejection, discrimination, or violence they face simply for being themselves.”

Katie Miller, a former Victory Congressional Intern who is now a researcher at the Center for American Progress, wrote in June about four pieces of legislation Congress could enact this year to combat LGBT youth homelessness.

Chicago City Council gets first lesbian alderman

deb mellIllinois State Rep. Deb Mell has been chosen to succeed her father as an alderman on the Chicago City Council, according to the Chicago Tribune. Mell, who will represent the 33rd Ward, will be the first out lesbian to serve on the council. Two out gay men currently serve as aldermen.

Mell was chosen by Mayor Rahm Emanuel with the help of a five-person panel he appointed to review applicants for the post. The seat is being vacated by Richard Mell, who was first elected to it in 1975.

“Deb brings a strong legislative and voting record and a unique level of experience to the role, which separated her from other candidates for the position, and will allow her to immediately able make a strong impact on behalf of the residents of the 33rd ward. She is a proven legislator and will be a great addition to the City Council,” said Emanuel, who also noted that her appointment would break glass ceilings for out women.

Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and Institute, congratulated Mell, saying, “Deb’s appointment gives Chicago another strong voice for the city’s LGBT community, and a real fighter for the people of the 33rd Ward.”

Mell married her wife, Christin Baker, in Iowa in 2011.

Study: LGBT legislators enhance prospects for gay rights

baldwinveepThe presence of openly LGBT legislators is associated significantly with the future passage of enhanced gay rights, according to new research published in American Political Science Review.

Andrew Reynolds, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said his research showed “once openly gay legislators are in office they have a transformative effect on the views and voting behavior of their straight colleagues”

“Gay members of parliaments have never been numerous enough to act as a voting block with leverage, but they can be legislative entrepreneurs who help set agendas and educate their colleagues on related issues,” Reynolds said.

He identified 67 openly LGBT members of parliaments in 18 countries in 2008, up from just 22 in 1998.  Of the 67, 50 identified themselves as gay men, 14 as lesbians, two as bisexual and one as transgender.

“We know that having out officials at all levels of government helps to dispel the myths and lies often told about the LGBT community.  Sometimes their mere presence is enough to change a colleague’s behavior, but increasingly it’s their hard work and outspoken leadership on LGBT issues that’s helping to move the needle in the direction of fairness and equality,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund and Institute.

In the U.S., every state legislature that has passed laws recognizing same-sex relationships has had at least one openly LGBT member.