Kathy Kozachenko

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Kathy Kozachenko
Ann Arbor City Council, Second Ward (Michigan)
In office
Preceded byNancy Wechsler (HR)
Succeeded byEarl W. Greene (D)
Personal details
Political partyHuman Rights Party
Alma materUniversity of Michigan

Kathy Kozachenko is an American politician who was the first openly lesbian or gay candidate to run successfully for political office in the United States.[1] Kozachenko ran on the ticket of the Human Rights Party (HRP), the local, left-wing third party, which had already succeeded in winning two Ann Arbor, Michigan council seats in 1972.[2]


Born in Alexandria, Virginia,[1] Kozachenko moved around during her youth. From Toledo, Ohio, she would eventually make it to Plymouth, Michigan. She joined the Human Rights Party in the early 1970s.

Kozachenko was an out student at the University of Michigan,[3] where she received support for her progressive agenda, which included a fine of no more than five dollars for possession of small amounts of marijuana. Another part of her platform included "a ceiling on the amount of profit a landlord could make from rents on a building".[3]

Running solely against a liberal Democrat, the 21-year-old Kozachenko was elected to the Ann Arbor City Council on April 2, 1974. She won the seat "representing the city's second ward by fifty-two votes".[4][1]

Kozachenko's HRP predecessors on the city council, Nancy Wechsler and Jerry DeGrieck, had come out as a lesbian and gay man during their first and only terms on the city council, thus becoming the first openly LGBT public-office holders in the United States; however, Wechsler and DeGrieck did not run for office as an open lesbian and gay individual.[2]


  1. ^ a b c Friess, Steve (December 11, 2015). "The First Openly Gay Person to Win an Election in America Was Not Harvey Milk". Bloomberg News. Retrieved 3 April 2020.
  2. ^ a b Compton, Julie (April 2, 2020). "Meet the lesbian who made political history years before Harvey Milk". NBC News. Retrieved 3 April 2020.
  3. ^ a b Faderman, Lillian (2015). The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle (1st ed.). New York: Simon & Schuster. pp. 393–394. ISBN 978-1451694116.
  4. ^ Campbell, Jane; Carilli, Theresa, eds. (2013). "11. First But (Nearly) Forgotten: Why You Know Milk But Not Kozachenko, by Bruce E. Drushel". Queer Media Images: LGBT Perspectives. Plymouth, United Kingdom: Lexington Books. p. 123. ISBN 978-0739180280.