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Lesbian Councilwoman Elected NYC Council Speaker

Courtesy Ron Schlittler
Courtesy Ron Schlittler

First elected to the New York City Council in a 1999 special election, Christine Quinn was chosen by her colleagues to be Speaker of the Council in 2006, being the first woman and first gay speaker in city history. Before serving on the city council, Quinn was the head of the Housing Justice Campaign for the Association of Neighborhood and Housing Development and managed political campaigns. She was appointed to the NYC Police Community Relations Task Force by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. 

During her time as Speaker, Quinn led efforts to expand the use of food stamps and was an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ+ issues. In 2006, she boycotted the annual St. Patrick's Day parade because of it prohibited gay participants and even banned gay pride pins. Quinn advocated at the New York Senate to pass same-sex marriage legislation in 2009, vowing that her and her partner would not get married until they did so. Her and her partner, Kim Catullo married on May 19, 2012. 

Kim Coco Iwamoto Becomes First Out Trans State Elected Official

From 2006 to 2011, Kim Coco Iwamoto served on Hawai’i’s Board of Education, making her the first out transgender person to win state office. Iwamoto is a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and the University of New Mexico School of Law. 

Before serving on the Board of Education, she became a licensed therapeutic foster parent in Hawai’i. 

Later, she was appointed to the Hawai’i Civil Rights Commission by the state’s then-governor, becoming the state's first out trans official with statewide jurisdiction. In 2013, former President Obama proclaimed her a Champion of Change.

Since then, Iwamoto has run for Lieutenant Governor of Hawai’i and a seat in the state’s house of representatives. In 2021, she was inducted into the LGBTQ+ Victory Hall of Fame. 

Lesbian Legislative Candidates Break Barriers in the South

Patricia Todd sworn in as a member of the Alabama House of Representatives

Patricia Todd: First Out Official in Alabama 

Patricia Todd became the first out LGBTQ+ person in the Alabama state legislature when she won her race for the state House in 2006. But it was tough. After winning a controversial primary runoff by 59 votes in a district that includes Birmingham, the mother of Todd’s opponent challenged the win, saying Todd had filed her campaign finance report late to hide a $25,000 contribution from LGBTQ+ Victory Fund. Todd disputed the challenge, pointing out that voters knew she was a lesbian and previous filings included LGBTQ+ Victory Fund donations. Todd, whose legislative focus is on poverty issues, won re-election every cycle until her retirement in 2018. She was succeeded by Alabama’s second out gay state lawmaker, Neil Rafferty. 

Kathy Webb: First Out Legislator in Arkansas 

Kathy Webb campaign photo

In May 2006, Kathy Webb won a four-way Democratic primary with 57 percent of the vote and then the general election with no Republican opposition to become the first out lesbian person elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives. She won reelection unopposed in 2008 and 2010 when she was termed out.

“I tried to be a role model for our community,” she told Victory Fund in February 9, 2015. “I was chosen to be the first woman in state history to cochair Joint Budget, and I was named the most effective member of the House in 2012.”

In 2014, she won election to the Little Rock City Board. The next year, 40 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were introduced around the country, though only Arkansas and North Carolina passed them into law. “There’s a lot of irony that I could oversee a multi-billion dollar budget, introduce and vote on bills, but can’t be protected from being fired simply because I’m a lesbian!” said Webb. 

Jolie Justus: First Out State Senator in Missouri

In 2006, longtime civil rights advocate and nationally recognized pro-bono attorney Jolie Justus handily won the Democratic primary before defeating her Republican opponent in the general election with over 72 percent of the vote. She made history as the first out LGBTQ+ member of the Missouri State Senate and only the third out LGBTQ+ member of the Missouri General Assembly. Justus served two terms, consistently defeating opponents by huge margins.

In the State Senate, Justus also served as Missouri Senate Minority Leader during her final two years in the body. She used her platform to push for expanded LGBTQ+ rights, including introducing statewide non-discrimination legislation that would ensure needed protections in employment, housing and other spaces. She also fought to overhaul Missouri’s criminal justice system and create greater economic opportunities in the state. Due to term limits, Justus left the State Senate to serve in the Kansas City Council, where she continued to fight for LGBTQ+ Missourians.

Virginia Linder Elected to Oregon Supreme Court


LGBTQ+ Victory Fund candidate Virginia Linder made history in 2006, when she won a three-way race for the Oregon Supreme Court. In doing so, Linder became the first ever out lesbian member of a state supreme court and the first out LGBTQ+ person elected as a non-incumbent to a state supreme court. Motivated by the Civil Rights and Women’s Rights Movements, Virginia Linder graduated from Willamette University with a law degree in 1980. She worked for Oregon’s justice department for 17 years before beginning her judicial career. Before her election to the state Supreme Court, Justice Linder served almost nine years on the Oregon Court of Appeals. She was the first woman to hold the office of Oregon solicitor general and was the first woman to represent Oregon before the United States Supreme Court. 

LGBTQ+ Victory Fund featured Linder in a mini-documentary: 

Victory Institute launches Coming Out Projectout

LGBTQ+ Victory Institute’s singular expertise and support had long been sought by elected officials who were considering coming out to their constituents. Over the years, LGBTQ+ Victory Institute discretely guided leaders through the coming out process on an informal basis. 

In 2006, LGBTQ+ Victory Institute launched a new effort and more dedicated resources to assist closeted officials, called the Coming Out Project. The toolkit included a DVD, featuring the personal stories of out politicians, as well as research commissioned by Victory Institute that measured attitudes toward LGBTQ+ politicians. The research suggested politicians weren’t punished by voters for coming out. Over the years, leaders like then Colorado State Board of Education Member Jared Polis, Florida State Representative Shevrin Jones and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg utilized the Coming Out Project’s resources to come out. 

LGBTQ+ Victory Fund Endorsed Candidates in 2006


Paula Aboud (D), State Senate District 28, Arizona

Sally Baird (D), Arlington School Board, Virginia

Tammy Baldwin (D), US House of Representatives, District 2, Wisconsin

Jarrett Barrios (D), State House, Massachusetts 

Jackie Biskupski (D), State House District 30, Utah

Lawrence Bliss (D), State House District 122, Maine

Julia Boseman (D), State Senate District 9, North Carolina

John Brady (D), Sussex County Recorder of Deeds, Delaware 

Beth Bye, State House District 19, Connecticut

David Catania (I), City Council, District of Columbia 

Ken Cheuvront (D), State Senate District 15, Arizona 

Thomas Chiola (D), Circuit Court Judge, Cook County, Illinois 

David Cicilline (D), Mayor of Providence, Rhode Island

Karen Clark (D), State House District 61A, Minnesota 

Sally Clark (D), Seattle City Council, Washington

Scott Dibble (D), State Senate District 60, Minnesota 

Kevin Dowling (NP), City Council, Hayward, California 

Karla Drenner (D), State House District 86, Georgia

Bevan Dufty (D), San Francisco Board of Supervisors, District 8, California 

Susan Eggman (D), Stockton City Council, California 

Henry Fernandez (D), Lawrence Township School Board, Indiana

Gary Fitzsimmons (D), Dallas District Clerk, Texas

Ed Flanagan (D), State Senate, Vermont

Barney Frank (D), U.S. House, District 4, Massachusetts 

Michael Gongora (D), Miami Beach City Commission, Florida 

Richard Gordon (D), San Mateo Supervisor, California  

Jim Graham (D), City Council, District of Columbia 

Scott Gruendl (D), City Council, Chico, California 

John Heilman (D), City Council, West Hollywood, California 

Christine Johnson (D), State House District 25, Utah

Jolie Justus (D), State Senate District 10, Missouri 

Anne Kaiser (D), State House District 14, Maryland

Aaron Kampfe (NP), Red Lodge City Council at large, Montana

Christine Kaufmann (D), State House District 53, Montana

Ken Keechl (D), Broward County Council, Florida

Amy Kobeta (D), Phoenix Union High School District Governing Board

Tina Kotek (D), State House District 44, Oregon

John Laird (D), State Assembly District 27, California 

Nicole LeFavour (D), State House District 19, Idaho

Mark Leno (D), State Assembly District 13, California 

Virginia Linder (NP), Oregon Supreme Court

Jason Lorber (D), State Representative, Chittenden District, Vermont 

Evan Low (D), City Council, Campbell, California 

Richard Madaleno (D), State Senate District 18, Maryland 

Al McAffrey (D), State House District 88, Oklahoma 

Matt McCoy (D), State Senate District 31, Iowa

Scott McCoy (D), State Senate District 2, Utah

Joe McDermott (D), State House District 34, Washington 

Mike McHale (D), Circuit Court Judge of Cook County, Illinois 

Maggie McIntosh (D), State House District 43, Maryland 

Larry McKeon (D), State House, Illinois 

Doug Milliken (D), Arapahoe CO County Treasurer, Colorado 

Heather Mizeur (D), State House District 19, Maryland

Jeanette Mott Oxford (D), State House District 59, Missouri 

Ed Murray (D), State Senate District 43, Washington 

Mike Nelson (D), Orange County Commissioner, North Carolina 

Daniel O'Donnell (D), State Assembly District 69, New York 

Stephen Padilla (D), Mayor, Chula Vista, California 

David Parks (D), State Assembly District 41, Nevada 

Jamie Pedersen (D), State House District 43, Washington

Mary Colleen Roberts (D), 11th Judicial Subcircuit, Illinois

Jim Roth (D), County Commissioner, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma 

David Rubin (D), Superior Court Judge, Seat 49, California 

Denise Rushing (D), Lake County Supervisor, California

Debra Shore (D) Metropolitan Water Reclamation Commissioner, Cook County, Illinois 

Paul Smedberg (D), City Council, Alexandria, Virginia 

Susan Steeg (D), Justice of The Peace, Travis County, Dist 2, Texas

Patricia Todd (D), State House District 54, Alabama

Kathy Webb (D), State House District 37, Arkansas 

Ken Yeager (NP), Board of Supervisors, Santa Clara County, California 


Dana Beyer (D), State House District 18, Maryland

Pat Coluzzi (NP), Rehoboth Beach City Commissioner, Delaware

Kevin Cronk (D), State House District 7, New Mexico

Benjamin Cruz (D), Lieutenant Governor, Guam

Charles Eader (D), Township Committee, Bedminster, New Jersey

Xander Gordon (NP), Murray School Board, District 3, Utah

Alexis Gorriaran (D), State Senate District 5, Rhode Island

Stephanie Loftin (D), City Council, Long Beach, California

Sean Patrick Maloney (D), Attorney General, New York

Anthony McCarthy (D), State House District 44, Maryland

Elena Popp (D), State Assembly District 45, California

Rhonda Rudd (D), State Senate District 46, Oklahoma

Rudy Serra (NP), Wayne County Probate Judge, Michigan

Devin Slayton (R), State Senate District 11, Arizona

Stephen Spring (G), Portland School Committee, Maine

Tina Taviano (D), Allen County Sheriff, Indiana

Allen Thornell (D), State House District 58, Georgia

Mary Washington (D), State House, Maryland

Clark Williams (D) City Council, San Jose, California

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