In a resounding victory for LGBTQ+ rights, the 2023 elections witnessed a remarkable lavender wave, with historic wins and significant shifts across various states in the U.S. Virginia Del. Danica Roem made history by becoming the first transgender state senator in Virginia, contributing to the Democratic wave that granted the party control of both legislative chambers. Remarkably, all nine LGBTQ+ candidates in the state emerged victorious, despite facing explicit anti-trans campaigns that spent over $500,000 on attack ads.
Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD, expressed the significance of this election, stating that “voters for LGBTQ equality and everyone’s fundamental freedoms came out in force.” These results send a powerful message that a supermajority of Americans support LGBTQ+ people and their right not to face discrimination. It also underscores the value of LGBTQ+ individuals within communities and emphasizes the importance of their freedom to be themselves and make healthcare decisions.
This election year marked a historic high, with over 200 LGBTQ+ candidates securing victories, including 148 in the most recent election. This surpasses any previous odd-numbered election year in U.S. history. Rue Landau made history as the first LGBTQ+ candidate to secure an at-large seat on the Philadelphia City Council, breaking a longstanding barrier. Similarly, Fabian Nelson’s election to represent District 66 in the Mississippi House marked a historic moment, as Mississippi and Louisiana were the last states never to have elected an out lawmaker.
Luanne Peterpaul achieved another significant milestone by winning the general election to represent District 11 in the New Jersey General Assembly, becoming the first-ever out LGBTQ woman to secure a seat in New Jersey’s state legislature. In Rhode Island, Gabe Amo became the first Black man to represent the state in Congress, succeeding out LGBTQ Rep. David Cicilline. Kentucky’s Governor Andy Beshear, a straight ally who defended the trans community, triumphed despite a relentless $5 million campaign against LGBTQ+ rights.
Even in seemingly minor battles over LGBTQ+ rights, the queer community emerged victorious. In Pella, Iowa, voters rejected a measure that aimed to grant the city council more control over the public library, which had previously resisted attempts to ban books with LGBTQ+ themes and characters.
The 2023 elections showcased a remarkable shift in the political landscape, emphasizing the growing support for LGBTQ+ individuals and their rights, transcending the divisive tactics of anti-trans campaigns.