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These LGBTQ+ Candidates Made History In The 2020 Election

From the first openly transgender state legislators to the first openly gay Black men elected to serve in Congress, the 2020 election has brought historic wins for LGBTQ+ candidates in states across the county.

"Last night LGBTQ candidates made historic inroads in state legislatures across the country, winning in states and chambers where we never have before," President and CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund Mayor Annise Parker said in a statement released Wednesday. "Trans candidates in particular had unprecedented victories, including electing our first trans state senator and almost doubling the number of trans state legislators. These down-ballot victories reflect where America stands on the inclusion of LGBTQ people in our nation's politics and each one represents an important step forward on the march toward equality."

Even before voters headed to the polls, the 2020 election was set to be historic as it brought a record number of openly LGBTQ+ candidates to the ballot. According to LGBTQ Victory Fund, at least 1,006 openly LGBTQ+ individuals ran for office in 2020 — a 41% increase from the 2018 midterm elections.

What makes this increase in candidates and the historic wins seen in Tuesday's general election truly significant is the fact the LGBTQ+ community has long been underrepresented in politics. According to NBC News, data from UCLA's Williams Institute and the Victory Institute has shown that although roughly 5% of adults in the United States identify as LGBTQ+, openly LGBTQ+ individuals make up 0.17% of elected officials.

Here are 14 historic LGBTQ+ wins from the 2020 election that are well worth celebrating:

Sarah McBride

Sarah McBride became the first openly transgender state senator in the United States after winning her State Senate race in Delaware on Tuesday. When sworn into office, McBride will become the nation's highest-ranking transgender official.

"I hope tonight shows an LGBTQ kid that our democracy is big enough for them, too," McBride tweeted shortly after her victory was announced Tuesday.

Michele Rayner-Goolsby

In Florida, Michele Rayner-Goolsby became the first openly queer Black woman to serve in the state's House of Representatives after running unopposed by a Republican challenger in Tuesday's general election. While unopposed in November's election, Rayner beat out three opponents in Florida's Democratic primary earlier this year.

Shevrin Jones

Also in Florida, Shevrin Jones easily defeated write-in candidate Darien Hill to become the first openly LGBTQ+ person ever elected to Florida's state senate. Jones came out as gay in 2018, roughly six years after he had first been elected to Florida's House of Representatives. Following Tuesday's election, Jones will now represent Florida's 35th District in the state's senate.

Kim Jackson

Kim Jackson garnered roughly 80% of the votes in her race against Republican opponent William Freeman to become Georgia's first openly LGBTQ+ state senator on Tuesday. However, while multiple media outlets have called the race in Jackson's favor, Jackson has said she wants to wait until every ballot has been counted before declaring victory to emphasize that every vote counts.

"We are thrilled to see that others have called our race a victory," she said late Tuesday in a statement shared on Facebook. "But we are also eagerly awaiting the final vote count. It is imperative that we COUNT EVERY VOTE. We will update folks in the morning. In the meantime, I end this night filled with gratitude and great hope."

Taylor Small

With a majority of votes counted late Tuesday, Taylor Small became the first openly transgender official elected to the Vermont State Legislature and, according to LGBTQ Nation, the fifth transgender legislator in the nation.

Stephanie Byers

Former public school teacher Stephanie Byers won her bid for a seat in the Kansas House of Representatives, making her the state's first openly transgender state legislator. According to Them, Byers is also the first openly transgender Native American person of color to be elected to a state legislature in the United States.

Ritchie Torres

With his election victory in New York's 15th District, Ritchie Torres became one of the first openly gay Black men ever elected to Congress. Torres defeated Republican challenger Patrick Delices in the race to fill Rep. Jose Serrano's seat after the 16 term Democrat said he would not seek re-election.

Mondaire Jones

Elsewhere in New York, voters in the state's 17th District elected Mondaire Jones to represent them in Congress, effectively making him, along with Torres, one of the first openly gay Black men ever elected to Congress.

"Growing up, I never imagined someone like me could run for Congress, let alone get elected," Jones said in a statement celebrating his victory. "To grow up poor, Black, and gay is to not see yourself anywhere. Now, I am honored to have the opportunity of a lifetime."

Adrian Tam

After defeating a longstanding Democratic incumbent in the primary election earlier this year, Adrian Tam defeated Republican challenger Nicholas Ochs in Tuesday's general election to become Hawaii’s first openly LGBTQ+ elected official. Tam will serve as representative of Hawaii’s District 22 in the Hawaii House of Representatives.

Mauree Turner

With their victory in the race to represent Oklahoma's 88th District in the state's House of Representatives, Mauree Turner has become the first openly non-binary Black Muslim individual elected to a state legislature.

Marie Pinkney

Social worker, foster mom, child advocate, and openly LGBTQ+ individual Marie Pinkney became the first openly Black lesbian elected to Delaware’s State Senate after defeating Alexander Homich.

Eric Morrison

Voters in Delaware also rallied behind Eric Morrison, making him the first openly gay man to be elected to the state’s General Assembly. He will represent Delaware's 27th District in the state house.

Torrey Harris

Torrey Harris, who local news outlets have reported identifies as bisexual, became Tennessee's first openly LGBTQ+ state legislator after he defeated Independent challenger John DeBerry on Tuesday with 77% of the vote.

Jabari Brisport

Public school teacher Jabari Brisport will trade in his classroom for the New York state senate after running unopposed to represent Brooklyn's 25th District in Tuesday's general election. His election victory makes him the first openly Black gay member of the New York state Legislature.