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

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

As of 2015:

  • all 50 states have been served by openly LGBT elected politicians in some capacity;[1]
  • at least 41 states have elected openly LGBT politicians to one or both houses of their state legislature;
  • only one state governor has ever come out as gay, and one as bisexual;

No openly LGBT person has served as president or vice president of the United States, nor has an openly gay person ever served on the Supreme Court of the United States.[2] No openly LGBT person has been named or served as a federal Cabinet member.[3]

Federal[edit]

Congress[edit]

By state delegation[edit]

  • Arizona
    • Rep. Jim Kolbe (R) – served 1985–2007; was outed in 1996 following his vote for the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act
    • Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D) – bisexual, elected 2012
  • California:
  • Colorado:
  • Connecticut
    • Rep. Stewart McKinney (R) – served 1971–1987; died of AIDS in 1987 and was actively, though not openly, bisexual
  • Florida:
  • Maine:
    • Rep. Mike Michaud (D) – served 2003–2015, came out as gay in 2013 while running for Governor of Maine.
  • Maryland:
    • Rep. Robert Bauman (R) – served 1973–1981; sexuality revealed after soliciting sex from a 16-year-old male prostitute
  • Massachusetts:
    • Rep. Gerry Studds (D) – served 1973–1997; came out involuntary in 1983 due to sexual relations with a 17-year-old United States House of Representatives Page (see 1983 congressional page sex scandal)
    • Rep. Barney Frank (D) – served 1980–2013; came out voluntarily in 1987 after Steve Gobie, a male prostitute who Frank had hired for sex and who later became his friend, personal assistant, and housekeeper, tried to sell his story to The Washington Times
  • Mississippi
    • Rep. Jon Hinson (R) – served 1979–1981; sexuality revealed after he was arrested February 5, 1981, and charged with sodomy[7] for performing oral sex on a male employee of the Library of Congress in a restroom of the House of Representatives, leading him to resign
  • New York:
  • Rhode Island:
  • Wisconsin:
    • Senator: Tammy Baldwin (female) (D) – elected 2012
    • Representative: Tammy Baldwin (female) (D) – served 1999–2013
    • Representative: Steve Gunderson (male) (R) – served 1981–1997; came out involuntarily 1994
    • Representative: Mark Pocan (D) – elected 2012; out when elected

Executive[edit]

See also: GLIFAA

State[edit]

Overall firsts[edit]

State officers by state[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:
    • Senate Minority Floor Leader: Sen. Jolie Justus (D) (2012)
  • Oregon:
    • House Speaker: Rep. Tina Kotek (D) – America's first openly lesbian House speaker (elected as Oregon's House speaker in 2012)[23]
  • Rhode Island:
  • Washington:
    • Senate Majority Leader: Sen. Ed Murray (D) (2012)

State legislators[edit]

The legislatures of 42 states have had at least one openly LGBT member; the first out person to serve in each of those states is listed here. The eight remaining states that have never had an openly LGBT state legislator are Alaska, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

Territorial legislators[edit]

Local[edit]

Nationwide firsts[edit]

By state[edit]

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.[70] 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.[70]

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.[71][72]

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.[73] (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.)[74]

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).[74][75]

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.[74][76]

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.[77] 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).[77]

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.[78] Cruz served as associate justice from 1997 to 1999 and as chief justice from 1999 until his retirement in 2001.[79]

  • State Judge of Compensation Claims Rand Hoch, Flagler, Seminole and Volusia counties, Florida – appointed 1992[80]
  • 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.[81]

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