Number of LGBTQ elected officials up 25 percent since 2018, report finds

While the number of LGBTQ elected officials is on the rise, “we need to elect nearly 23,000 more to achieve parity,” according to the Victory Institute.
Image:
Sharice Davids at a victory party in Olathe, Kansas, on Nov. 6, 2018. Davids defeated Republican incumbent Kevin Yoder to win the 3rd Congressional District seat in Kansas.Colin E. Braley / AP
By Tim Fitzsimons

After a string of successful general and special elections, the number of LGBTQ elected officials in the U.S. today stands at 698 — the highest number ever, and an increase of nearly 25 percent over last year, according to the Victory Institute, which tracks openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer elected officials.

The data was released as part of Victory's 2019 Out for America report; in last year’s report, there were 559 out LGBTQ officials.

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Some of the most well-known LGBTQ officials to take office this year are Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, Rep. Sharice Davids of Kansas and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. All are Democrats.

“Some of it is that more out people are running, some of it is that more out people are getting elected, and then more people who are in office are coming out,” Victory Institute President and CEO Annise Parker, the former mayor of Houston, told NBC News. “So it’s becoming much more acceptable, so the numbers are going up every day.”

However, Parker noted that for all the increase in representation, the LGBTQ community remains severely underrepresented in raw terms. The 698 out LGBTQ elected officials make up only 0.13 percent of all elected officials nationwide. Gallup estimates that the LGBTQ community is roughly 4.5 percent of the population.

“Unfortunately, even though this is the highest number we have ever had, we need to elect nearly 23,000 more to achieve parity in elected office,” Parker said.

The number of black LGBTQ elected officials rose from 30 to 43, Latino LGBTQ officials rose from 58 to 74, and transgender elected officials rose from 13 to 20.

“It is time for our first trans member of Congress, our first LGBTQ governor of color, and our first LGBTQ American president,” Parker said in a statement. She called for LGBTQ people to be elected "to every school board, to every city council and to every state legislature.”

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Brian Latimer contributed.