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

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This is a list of the first openly LGBT people to have held political office in the United States.

Federal[edit]

Congress[edit]

By state delegation[edit]

  • Arizona
  • California:
    • Rep. Mark Takano (D) – elected 2012; out when elected
  • Colorado:
    • Rep. Jared Polis (D) – served 2009–2019; out when elected
  • Florida:
    • Rep. Mark Foley (R) – served 1995–2006; outed in 2006
  • Kansas
  • Maine:
    • Rep. Mike Michaud (D) – served 2003–2015; came out in 2014
  • Maryland:
  • Massachusetts:
    • Rep. Gerry Studds (D) – served 1973–1997; outed in 1983
    • Rep. Barney Frank (D) – served 1980–2013; came out in 1987
  • Mississippi
    • Rep. Jon Hinson (R) – served 1979–1981; outed in 1981
  • New York:
  • New Hampshire:
  • Rhode Island:
  • Wisconsin:
    • Sen. Tammy Baldwin (female) (D) – elected 2012; out when elected
    • Rep. Tammy Baldwin (female) (D) – served 1999–2013; out when elected
    • Rep. Steve Gunderson (male) (R) – served 1981–1997; came out in 1994
    • Rep. Mark Pocan (D) – elected 2012; out when elected

Executive[edit]

State[edit]

Overall firsts[edit]

  • First openly lesbian or gay candidate elected to a state legislature – Elaine Noble (D), Massachusetts House of Representatives; Elected in 1974, served two terms starting in January 1975, open when elected.[10]
  • First openly transgender state legislator – Althea Garrison (R), Massachusetts House of Representatives; Elected in 1992, outed involuntarily after election but before taking office. Served openly from 1993–1995.
  • First openly gay president of a city council — Harry Britt, President of the San Francisco City-County Board of Supervisors from 1989 to 1990.[11]
  • First openly gay state comptrollerEd Flanagan (D), Vermont Auditor of Accounts; served four terms: first elected 1992, came out in 1995; was subsequently reelected.[12][13]
  • First openly gay governor – Jim McGreevey (D), governor of New Jersey – came out 2004 (during the same speech in which he announced his resignation as governor).[14][15]
  • First openly gay governor elected — Jared Polis (D), was elected Governor of Colorado November 6, 2018. (McGreevey was not out at the time of election)[16]
  • First openly bisexual governor and first person to be openly LGBT at time of taking office as governor – Kate Brown (D), governor of Oregon (ascended to office in 2015 after previous governor resigned, then elected in 2016 in her own right).[17][18]
  • Lieutenant governor — Josh Tenorio (D), Guam – elected 2018
  • Secretary of State — Tony Miller (male) (D), California – appointed in 1994; lost election in 1994
  • State treasurer — Dale McCormick (D), Maine – elected (by the legislature) 1996
  • State Corporation Commission — Jim Roth (D), Oklahoma – appointed in 2007, lost election for remainder of term in 2009
  • First openly gay attorney general – Maura Healey (D), Massachusetts, elected in 2014 [19]
  • State legislative leaders:
    • Presiding officer: Minnesota sen. Allan H. Spear (D) – elected senate president 1993
    • Speaker: Rhode Island rep. Gordon D. Fox (D) – elected speaker 2010
  • First openly transgender person to 1) hold non-judicial public office in CA (appointed by RVNC Board of Directors 2017), 2) be an elected government official in the City/County of Los Angeles (2019), and 3) to be president of a City of Los Angeles certified neighborhood council (2019) – Rachael Rose Luckey

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)[20]
  • 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
    • Ron Galperin was the first openly gay citywide elected official in Los Angeles when he was elected City Controller in 2013. Galperin was re-elected to a second term in 2017.[66]
    • 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.[67]
    • John Laird was elected mayor of Santa Cruz in 1983.[68]
    • Valerie S. Terrigno was elected Mayor of the newly incorporated City of West Hollywood in 1984, making her the first openly lesbian elected official in California and the youngest woman Mayor at age 31. The West Hollywood City Council also held a 3 person Gay and Lesbian majority, also a first in U.S. history.
    • 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.[69]
    • 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.[70]
    • 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.[71]
    • Gary Miller was the first LGBT elected official in Sacramento County. Served on Robla School board for 19 years. Moved to Roseville, Ca. Ran and won a seat on Roseville school board in 2008, was re-elected in 2012, 2016.
    • In 2010, Joe Mosca took office as mayor of Sierra Madre, becoming the first openly gay mayor in the San Gabriel Valley.[72] 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.[72]
    • 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.[73]
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
    • The first openly gay mayor in Delaware was John Buchheit of Delaware City (elected 2011).[78]
  • 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.[11]
    • Ben Ku was elected to the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners in 2018, becoming the first openly LGBT official to be elected to the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners.[88]
  • Hawaii
    • Tim Riley, was elected to the Waianae neighborhood board in February 2019.[89]
  • 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.[90]
  • Indiana
    • Pete Buttigieg, first major political party candidate for President; before that mayor of South Bend – publicly announced that he was gay in 2015[91], while in his first term in office; first openly LGBT executive official in Indiana.[92]And first gay major party candidate for President (no citation needed).
    • Veronica Pejril – first transgender elected official, Greencastle city council, elected 2019.[93]
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
    • Longest-serving LGBTQ elected official: Henry Schwaller, elected 1999 – city commissioner, Hays, Kansas[95]
    • Mayor: C.C. Smith (female), elected 2017 – Linn Valley, Kansas[95]
    • Kansas has 6 openly-LGBT city councillors / commissioners, including in 2 of the state's 10 biggest cities: Shawnee and Manhattan.[95]
  • 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
  • Mississippi
  • Nebraska
    • Lincoln
      • City Council: James Michael Bowers, elected 2019
      • Lincoln Public Schools Board of Education: Barbara Baier, elected 2005
    • Omaha
      • Omaha Public Schools Board of Education: Marque Snow, elected 2013
    • Ralston
      • Ralston School Board: Jay Irwin, elected 2017 (first openly transgender elected official in Nebraska)
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
    • Carrboro
      • Mayor: Mike Nelson, elected 1995
    • Chapel Hill
    • Raleigh
      • County Commissioner: Greg Ford
      • Raleigh city councilman: Saige Martin, elected 2019
  • 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.[97]
  • Rhode Island
    • Providence
    • Richmond
      • Mayor: Benjamin Joseph Reddish III
    • Woonsocket
      • City Council Member: Melissa Murray, elected 2013
  • 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[98]
    • New Hope
      • Mayor: Jess Herbst, appointed 2016, came out as transgender 2017
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

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.[103] 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.[103]

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.[104][105]

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.[106] (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.)[107]

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).[107][108]

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.[107][109]

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.[110] 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).[110] In 2017, Paul Feinman became the first openly gay judge to sit on the New York Court of Appeals.

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.[111] Cruz served as associate justice from 1997 to 1999 and as chief justice from 1999 until his retirement in 2001.[112]

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.[113]

  • State judge of compensation claims: Rand Hoch, Flagler, Seminole and Volusia counties, Florida – appointed 1992[114]
  • 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.[115]

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