Tuesday’s election offered limited, but tangible, hope to the LGBT community. For more lasting change, the ‘rainbow wave’ may have to accrue a lot more velocity.
The political map got a little more blue last night—but it also got a lot more rainbow.
The 2018 midterm elections didn’t deliver on every potential LGBT advancement, but they did result in several key victories for an embattled community: In Massachusetts, for the first time in history, a statewide vote upheld protections for transgender people in public accommodations—and by a large margin of 67 to 32 percent.
Colorado voters chose Jared Polis to be their governor, marking the first time in history that an openly gay man has been elected to that office nationwide. And as of early Wednesday morning, eight openly LGBT candidates had won federal elections.
Two high-profile LGBT politicians also kept their jobs: Oregon’s Kate Brown, who is the only openly bisexual person to be elected governor, and Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin, who until Tuesday night was the only lesbian ever been elected to Congress.
At the same time, there were major—if not entirely unexpected—LGBTlosses: openly transgender woman Christine Hallquist lost the Vermont gubernatorial election to Republican incumbent Phil Scott by a 15-point margin and out lesbian Lupe Valdez fell over a million votes short of Republican incumbent and former “bathroom bill” proponentGreg Abbott in the Texas gubernatorial election.
But the full scale of what LGBT advocates dubbed a “rainbow wave” may take days to come into focus: According to Victory Fund, a nonpartisan advocacy group that works to elect LGBT candidates, there were at least 391 out candidates on the ballot Tuesday night, with many of those races too close to call the morning after.
Caught in those tight contests were candidates like Krysten Sinema, an Arizona congresswoman and openly bisexual woman, who was running for the state’s open Senate seat and lesbian Iraq war veteran Gina Ortiz Jones, whose lost her Texas congressional race.