List of the first LGBT holders of political offices in the United States

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Below is a list of the first LGBT holders of political offices in the United States.

As of 2019:

Federal[edit]

Congress[edit]

By state delegation[edit]

Executive[edit]

State[edit]

Overall firsts[edit]

State officers by state[edit]

Constitutional officers[edit]

Legislative officials[edit]

  • California:
  • Colorado:
  • Hawaii:
    • House Majority Leader: Rep. Blake Oshiro (D) – elected 2008, came out 2011
  • Massachusetts:
    • Senate Minority Leader: Sen. Richard Tisei (R) – elected 2007, came out 2010
    • Senate Majority Leader: Sen. Stan Rosenberg (D) – elected 2013, came out 2009
  • Minnesota:
  • Missouri:
  • Oregon:
    • House Speaker: Rep. Tina Kotek (D) – America's first openly lesbian House speaker (elected as Oregon's House speaker in 2012)[28]
  • Rhode Island:
  • Washington:
    • Senate Majority Leader: Sen. Ed Murray (D) (2012)
  • Wyoming:

State legislators[edit]

As of the 2018 elections, the legislatures of 46 states have had at least one openly LGBT member; the first out person to serve in each of those states is listed here. The four remaining states that have never had an openly LGBT state legislator are Alaska, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Territorial legislators[edit]

Local[edit]

Nationwide firsts[edit]

By state[edit]

  • Arizona
  • California
    • Robert F. Gentry was elected mayor of Laguna Beach, in 1982, becoming the first openly gay mayor in California and the first openly gay elected official in southern California.[69]
    • John Laird was elected mayor of Santa Cruz in 1983.[70]
    • Danny Wan was appointed member of the Oakland City Council in 1999, and elected in the post in 2002, becoming the city’s first openly gay politician.[71]
    • Ron Oden was elected mayor of Palm Springs in 2003; he became the first openly gay black man elected mayor of an American city and was the first openly gay mayor of Palm Springs.[72]
    • Mike Gin was elected mayor of Redondo Beach in 2005, becoming the first openly gay Asian American mayor elected in the US and the first Republican gay mayor elected in California.
    • Christopher Cabaldon was elected mayor of West Sacramento in 1998 and came out in 2006, making him the first openly gay Filipino elected as mayor in the US. As of 2016, he is the longest-serving LGBT mayor.
    • Evan Low was elected mayor of Campbell in 2009, at the age 26, making him the youngest gay mayor (and the youngest Asian American mayor) nationwide at the time. Low was reelected in 2013.[73]
    • In 2010, Joe Mosca took office as mayor of Sierra Madre, becoming the first openly gay mayor in the San Gabriel Valley.[74] By 2010, there were four openly gay mayors in Los Angeles County: Mosca, John Heilman of West Hollywood, Mitch Ward of Manhattan Beach, and Mike Gin of Redondo Beach.[74]
    • Bao Nguyen was elected mayor of Garden Grove, in 2014, at the age 34, making him the first gay mayor and first Vietnamese mayor of Garden Grove, as well as the youngest mayor in Orange County. He also became the first Vietnamese Democratic mayor in the United States.
    • Gerrie Schipske, was elected to Long Beach Community College Board of Trustees, 1992-1996, served as President, and was elected to Long Beach City Council, 2006-2014, in each case becoming the first openly lesbian elected official.[75]
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
    • The first openly gay mayor in Delaware was John Buchheit of Delaware City (elected 2011).[80]
  • Florida
  • Georgia
    • Cathy Woolard was elected to the Atlanta City Council in 1997, becoming the first openly LGBT elected official in the state of Georgia. She went on to become council president.[19]
  • Hawaii
    • Tim Riley, was elected to the Waianae neighborhood board in February 2019.[88]
  • Illinois
    • Lori Lightfoot, was elected Mayor of Chicago in April 2019, making her the first openly gay mayor of Chicago and making Chicago the largest US city ever to elect an openly gay mayor.[89]
  • Indiana
    • Peter Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend – publicly announced that he was gay in 2015, while in his first term in office; first openly LGBT executive official in Indiana.[90]
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
    • Longest-serving LGBTQ elected official: Henry Schwaller, elected 1999 – City Commissioner, Hays, Kansas[92]
    • Mayor: C.C. Smith (female), elected 2017 – Linn Valley, Kansas[92]
    • Kansas has 6 openly-LGBT city councillors / commissioners, including in 2 of the state's 10 biggest cities: Shawnee and Manhattan.[92]
  • Kentucky
    • Lexington
    • Vicco
      • Mayor: Johnny Cummings
  • Maryland
    • Salisbury
      • Mayor: Jim Ireton
    • College Park
      • Mayor: Patrick Wojahn
  • Massachusetts
    • Attleboro
      • Mayor: Kevin Dumas (male), elected 2003
    • Cambridge
    • Holyoke
      • Mayor: Alex Morse, elected 2011
    • Revere
      • City Councillor-at-Large: Steve Morabito, elected 2013
  • Michigan
    • Ferndale
    • Saugatuck
      • Mayor: Jeff Spangler
    • Ypsilanti
      • Mayor: Amanda Edmonds
  • Mississippi
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
    • Carrboro
      • Mayor: Mike Nelson, elected 1995
    • Chapel Hill
    • Raleigh
      • County Commissioner: Greg Ford
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
    • Bernville, Berks County
      • Mayor: Shawn A. Raup-Konsavage, elected 2017, assumed office January 2018.
    • Doylestown
      • Mayor: Ron Strouse
    • Erie
      • Tyler Titus, a transgender man, became the first openly transgender person elected to public office in Pennsylvania when he was elected to the Erie School Board in 2017.[93]
  • Rhode Island
    • Providence
    • Richmond
      • Mayor: Benjamin Joseph Reddish III
    • Woonsocket
      • City Council Member: Melissa Murray, elected 2013
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
    • Houston
      • Mayor (Major City): Annise Parker, elected 2009, assumed office January, 2010
    • Kemp
      • Mayor (Any City): Matthew Ganssle, elected 2009, assumed office May, 2009[94]
    • New Hope
      • Mayor: Jess Herbst, appointed 2016, came out as transgender 2017
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wisconson

Judicial[edit]

The first openly gay judge in the United States was Stephen M. Lachs, appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to the Los Angeles County Superior Court in 1979.[99] Before leaving office in 1981, Brown appointed three more gay and lesbian judges to the California courts, including the nation's first openly lesbian judge, Mary Morgan, who served on the San Francisco municipal court.[99]

In 1994, Thomas R. Chiola became the first openly gay judge in Illinois (and the first openly gay elected official in Illinois) when voters elected him to the Circuit Court of Cook County.[100][101]

Deborah A. Batts was the nation's first openly LGBT federal judge. She was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and confirmed by the Senate in a voice vote in 1994.[102] (Judge Vaughn Walker of the Northern District of California served from 1989 to February 2011 but did not come out until April 2011, after his retirement.)[103]

Batts was the sole openly LGBT judge on the federal bench for seventeen years, until Barack Obama appointed a series of gay and lesbian judges to the district courts: J. Paul Oetken (Southern District of New York, 2011); Alison J. Nathan (Southern District of New York, 2011); Michael W. Fitzgerald (Central District of California, 2012); Nitza I. Quiñones Alejandro (Eastern District of Pennsylvania, 2013); Pamela K. Chen (Eastern District of New York, 2013); Michael J. McShane (District of Oregon, 2013); Darrin P. Gayles (Southern District of Florida, 2014); Staci Michelle Yandle (Southern District of Illinois, 2014), and Judith Ellen Levy (Eastern District of Michigan, 2014).[103][104]

Obama also appointed the first openly LGBT judge of a federal court of appeals, Todd M. Hughes of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.[103][105]

The first openly LGBT justice of a state supreme court was Rives Kistler, appointed to the Oregon Supreme Court in 2003, and retained by voters the following year.[106] The next gay or lesbian state supreme court justices were Virginia Linder (Oregon Supreme Court, 2006); Monica Márquez (Colorado Supreme Court, 2010); Barbara Lenk (Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, 2011); Sabrina McKenna (Supreme Court of Hawaii, 2011); Beth Robinson (Vermont Supreme Court, 2011).[106]

Benjamin Cruz of Guam was the first openly gay judge of a territorial supreme court; he came out in 1995 and was appointed to the Supreme Court of Guam in 1997.[107] Cruz served as associate justice from 1997 to 1999 and as chief justice from 1999 until his retirement in 2001.[108]

The first openly bisexual judge in the United States is Mike Jacobs, a state court judge in DeKalb County, Georgia, who came out publicly in 2018.[109]

  • State Judge of Compensation Claims Rand Hoch, Flagler, Seminole and Volusia counties, Florida – appointed 1992[110]
  • Transgender judge: Victoria Kolakowski, Superior Court of Alameda County, California – elected 2010
  • Superior Court Judge Victor Carlson, 3rd Judicial District State of Alaska at Anchorage – appointed 1975 served until 1985 when he lost a retention election that was held in the shadow of his coming out.[111]

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