These Wins For LGBTQ Rights In The 2018 Midterm Elections Are Definitely A Rainbow Wave
From coast to coast on Tuesday — and in many states in the middle — races fell in favor of LGBTQ rights and openly LGBTQ candidates on election night. After a lot of hype following successful primaries, these wins for LGBTQ rights in the 2018 midterm elections do, in fact, constitute a rainbow wave.
LGBTQ candidates won no matter what type of race you're looking at. They were elected to the House in record numbers, and the only openly LGBTQ senator will be going back to Washington as well. Two governorships now land on the rainbow map, and out candidates won other statewide races, too. It's hard to even quantify the rest of the down-ballot wins in statehouses, city councils, and more.
There were, however, some disappointments. Gina Ortiz Jones, an out Iraq War veteran running for the House in Texas, was in a too close to call race as of Wednesday morning, according to The Texas Tribune. In the race for governor in Texas, Lupe Valdez lost, as did Christine Hallquist in the Vermont governor's race. She would have been the first transgender governor elected in the country.
Besides the election of out candidates, there a few more wins. Massachusetts saw an effort to overturn legal protections for its transgender citizens via a ballot initiative, Question 3, fail. And from California to Kentucky, straight politicians who grew famous in the fight for marriage equality won and lost their races in ways that can be seen as symbolic wins for LGBTQ rights.
These wins, taken together, can definitely be seen as a rainbow wave.
1. Jared Polis Won Colorado Governor's Race
Jared Polis was elected governor of Colorado — the first gay person to be elected governor in the entire country. The win is particularly meaningful for LGBTQ rights not just because of how he identifies (he was open during the election about raising two children with his partner, a man), but for the quick change in Colorado.
In 1992, Colorado passed Initiative 2, which added an amendment to the state's constitution that banned state and local non-discrimination laws on the basis of sexual orientation. The Supreme Court eventually struck it down in Romers v. Evans, but at the time, Colorado was deemed the "hate state." Now Colorado has an out governor-elect.
2. Yes On 3 In Massachusetts
This is the most important vote for LGBTQ rights this Election Day. Massachusetts has long been a bellwether in the fight for LGBTQ rights. It was the first state to legalize marriage equality in 2004, and it's now the first state to vote for transgender protections.
Voters upheld non-discrimination laws and protections that include the right for trans people to use the bathroom and locker room that match their gender identity.
3. Tammy Baldwin Reelected Senator From Wisconsin
Tammy Baldwin's win in Wisconsin keeps an LGBTQ voice in the U.S. Senate. She's the only openly gay or lesbian person in the chamber.
4. Kate Brown Wins Second Term As Oregon's Governor
With Polis, two of the 50 states will have openly LGBTQ governors starting in January. Kate Brown, who identifies as bi, was reelected in Oregon.
5. Sharice Davids Won Her House Seat In Kansas
Sharice Davids was elected to the House for her district in Kansas, defeating a four-term Republican incumbent in the process. Not only that, Davids identifies as a lesbian and is a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation.
That makes her, together with Debra Haaland of New Mexico, the first Native American woman ever to serve in Congress. She's also the first LGBTQ congresswoman ever elected from Kansas. And she's definitely, definitely, the first gay Native American woman to go to Washington.
6. Chris Pappas Elected To House In New Hampshire
Chris Pappas became the first openly LGBTQ representative sent to Washington from the state of New Hampshire on Tuesday.
7. Angie Craig Beat Back An Anti-LGBTQ Opponent And Won Her House Seat In Minnesota
8. Rhode Island's David Cicilline Won Reelection To The House
9. Wisconsin's Mark Pocan Was Reelected To The House
Mark Pocan, who is openly gay, will be headed to Washington again, this year running unopposed. He was first elected in 2012.
10. Mark Takano Was Reelected To The House In California
Mark Takano was elected in 2012 as the first gay, Asian man to serve in the U.S. House. He won again on Tuesday.
11. Gavin Newsom Won The California Governor's Race
Gavin Newsom won the Califoria governor's race after first making a national name for himself as mayor of San Francisco. At the time he ordered city officials to grant same-sex marriage licenses. The weddings continued for a month in 2004 before the state supreme court stopped them — all this a decade before marriage equality became the law of the land nationwide.
His win as governor is not just symbolic; as the largest state in the country, California's decisions on LGBTQ rights will have a wide impact — most recently, for example, in offering nonbinary birth certificates and other state IDs.
12. Kim Davis Lost Her Reelection
Kim Davis lost reelection as the local county clerk. This win is purely symbolic and won't technically have much effect on LGBTQ rights outside of Rowan County, Kentucky.
Still, given that she made a name for herself internationally by refusing to sign same-sex marriage licenses, there's no way to ignore this win. Her opponent promised to treat all marriages equally.
On top of these races, there are lots of down-ballot wins to celebrate, too. Though there were a few high-profile losses, LGBTQ people have never been represented at all levels of government — and that's a rainbow wave.