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Connecticut Lawmaker Jason Bartlett Comes Out, Wins Re-election

Coming out in office is never an easy thing. But as Connecticut State Representative Jason Bartlett told Towleroad in 2008, “For me the decision came down to why not now. To me this is about having a conversation with my larger family – the people of Greater Danbury who voted for me. I’ve always considered my life private. But at the same time, we are also living in a digital age and I’m in the public eye. People are always interested in you and your family.” 

First elected in 2006, Bartlett won his hotly contested re-election in 2008 after coming out that May. With victory came history: Bartlett became one of just two out LGBTQ+ African-Americans elected as state lawmakers in the United States.

Bi Trailblazer Kate Brown Elected Statewide in Oregon

Secretary of State Kate Brown at the 2011 Victory Fund National Brunch.
Secretary of State Kate Brown at the 2011 Victory Fund National Brunch.

Kate Brown is no stranger to breaking glass ceilings. Appointed to fill a vacancy in the Oregon House of Representatives in 1991, she went from the House to the state Senate in 1996. In 2004, she became the first woman elected to serve as Senate majority leader. In 2008, she was elected Secretary of State, becoming the first out LGBTQ+ candidate in U.S. history to be elected to a secretary of state post, the first out bisexual elected statewide official in the United States and the second-highest ranking executive office in the entire state. 

Brown won a tough four-way primary and went on to defeat her Republican opponent on November 4, 2008. Her race was a top priority for LGBTQ+ Victory Fund and its donors, who collectively spent more than $90,000 to fund Brown’s campaign. Brown’s victory sealed her position as the country’s highest-ranking out bisexual official.

Brown in 2003

Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus Forms

Congressman Jared Polis
Congressman Jared Polis

In the 2008 elections, Jared Polis won his bid to represent Colorado’s second district in the House, becoming the first out LGBTQ+ member of Congress from the state. With the help of LGBTQ+ Victory Institute, Jared came out to his constituents while serving on the Colorado Board of Education. His 2008 election gave him the distinction of being the first out gay man to ever elected to Congress as a non-incumbent. 

With Polis’s win, he joined Reps. Barney Frank and Tammy Baldwin in Congress and assisted them in founding the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus. A bipartisan effort, the Caucus includes both out elected officials (who serve as the group’s co-chairs) and allies dedicated to advancing LGBTQ+ equality through legislation and opposing discriminatory measures. The first caucus featured 91 House members. 

Lawrence Webb Makes History as Virginia's First Black Gay Official

Lawrence Webb
Lawrence Webb

By the 2008 elections, the tactic of painting LGBTQ+ rights as a “wedge issue” in national politics was well established. With the federal government and dozens of state legislatures working to roll back LGBTQ+ equality, LGBTQ+ Victory Fund renewed its focus on investing in state and local races. 

In 2008, LGBTQ+ Victory Fund endorsed LGBTQ+ candidates up and down the ballot, including Lawrence Webb in Virginia. Webb had a background in education and politics, having held positions at several Virginia colleges, and was appointed by Governor Mark Warner to the board of the Department of Correctional Education. Looking to serve in a new capacity, Webb jumped into the race for Falls Church City School Board. Webb won an incredibly close election for a city council seat, edging out his competition by a margin of 39 votes, and becoming the first Black out LGBTQ+ man elected in the Commonwealth of Virginia. 

“I hope my election opens the door for others to get involved in public service,” Webb later said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re gay or Black or both. What matters is your dedication to building a better community, and your willingness to work hard at it.”

Webb in 2012 at a LGBTQ+ Victory Fund event supporting Adam Ebbin

Film Brings Harvey Milk’s Story to the Big Screen

The Milk poster drapes San Francisco’s Castro Theatre ahead of the 2008 premiere there. Photo by Max Kirkeberg
The Milk poster drapes San Francisco’s Castro Theatre ahead of the 2008 premiere there. Photo by Max Kirkeberg

As Californians weighed whether to ban same-sex marriage via Proposition 8, LGBTQ+ activists and leaders gathered at San Francisco’s Castro Theatre for the premiere of the Oscar-winning biopic Milk. The movie – starring Sean Penn in the title role – detailed the inspirational life and tragic assassination of Harvey Milk, the tireless politician that inspired countless LGBTQ+ people to come out of the closet and run for public office. The creative team behind Milk screened the film at the 2008 International LGBTQ Leaders Conference and answered viewers questions afterward, reflecting on the continued fight for equality that Milk personified. 

LGBTQ+ Victory Fund Endorsed Candidates in 2008

LGBTQ+ Victory Fund endorsed 111 candidates in 2008.


Alice Lightle (D), Little Rock District Court, Arkansas

Kathy Webb (D), State Representative, AR, Arkansas

Kyrsten Sinema (D), State Representative, Dist. 15, Arizona

Christopher Cabaldon (D), West Sacramento Mayor, California

Sarah Gonzales (D), Hayward Unified School District, California

Christine Kehoe (D), State Senate, Dist. 39, California

John Lindner (D), Franklin-McKinley School District Board of Education, California

Jamie McLeod (D), Santa Clara City Council , California

Darryl Moore (D), Berkeley City Council, District 2, California

David Roberts (D), Mayor, Solona Beach, California

Mark Ferrandino (D), State Representative, Dist. 2, Colorado

Jason Bartlett (D), State Representative, Dist 2, Connecticut

Beth Bye (D), CT State Representative, Dist 19, Connecticut

Mike Lawlor (D), State Representative, District 99, Connecticut

Jack Jacobson (N), ANC , District of Columbia

Dennis Barbour (D), Rehoboth Beach City Commissioner, Delavare

Victoria Sigler, Circuit Court Judge, Florida

Greg Harris (D), IL State Representative, Dist 13, Illinois

Sebastian Patti, Circuit Court of Cook County, Judge, Illinois

Barney Frank (D), US House of Reps, MA-4, Massachusetts

Sarah Peake  (D), MA State Representative, Dist 4, Massachusetts

Cheryl Rivera (D), State Representative, 10th Hampden District, Massachusetts

Carl Sciortino (D), MA State Representative, District 34, Massachusetts

Dave Coulter (D), Oakland County Commission, Michigan

Jeanette Mott-Oxford (D), MO State Representative, Dist 59, Missouri

Aaron Kampfe (D), Red Lodge MT City Council At-Large       , Montana

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

Ed Butler (D), State Representative, Dist Carroll County 1, New Hampshire

David Pierce (D), State Representative, District 9, New Hampshire

Jim Splaine (D), State Representative, Dist 16, New Hampshire

Bruce Harris (R), Chatham Borough Council, New Jersey

John Kashwick (R), Closter City Council, At-Large, New Jersey

Thomas Duane (D), NY State Senate, Dist. 29, New York

Bill Hanauer (D), Mayor, Village of Ossing, New York

Micah Kellner (D), NY State Assembly, Dist 65, New York

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

Matthew Titone (D), NY State Assembly, Dist 61, New York

Mary Wiseman (D), Montgomery County Common Pleas Court, Ohio

Al McAffrey (D), State Legislature, Dist 88, Oklahoma

Rick Brissette (N), Lincoln City Council, Oregon

Frank Ferri (D), State Representative , Rhode Island

Lupe Valdez (D), Sheriff, Dallas County, Texas

Jackie Biskupski (D), Utah State Representative, Dist 30, Utah

Christine Johnson (D), State Representative, Dist. 25, Utah

Edward Flanagan (D), State Senate  , Vermont

Jason Lorber (D), State Representative, District Chittenden 3-3, Vermont

Joe McDermott (D), State Senate, Dist. 34, Washington

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

Tammy Baldwin (D), US House of Reps, WI-4, Wisconsin

Matt Hienz (D), State Representative, Dist 29, Arizona

Tom Ammiano (D), State Assembly, Dist. 13, California

Garry Haehnle, San Diego Superior Court, Seat #19, California

Rebecca Kaplan (D), Oakland City Council, At-Large, California

Mark Leno (D), State Senate, Dist 3, California

John Perez (D), State Assembly, Dist 46, California

Jared Polis (D), U.S. House of Reps, CO-2, Colorado

Sue Schafer (D), State Representative, Dist 24, Colorado

Kevin Beckner (D), Hillsborough County Commission, Florida

Heather Carruthers (D), Monroe County Commission, Dist 3, Florida

Benjamin Cruz (D), Senator At-Large, Guam

Nicole LeFavour (D), State Senate, Dist 19, Idaho

Deborah Mell (D), IL State Representative, Dist 40, Illinois

Thomas Robichaux (D), Orleans Parish School Board, Dist 7, Louisiana

Kate Hogan (D), State Representative, Dist 3rd Middlesex, Massachusetts

Sandi Smith (D), Ann Arbor City Council, Michigan

Carla Bates (D), Minneapolis School Board, Minnesota

Michael Colona (D), State Representative,MO, Missouri

Christine Kaufmann (D), MT State Senate Dist 41, Montana

Ed Zipprich (D), Red Bank City Council, New Jersey

David Parks (D), State Senate, District  7, Nevada

Janis Castaldi (D), Village Trustee, Ossing , New York

Frank Nervo (D), N.Y. County, 1st Municipal Court District, New York

Sam Adams (D), Portland Mayor, Oregon

Kate Brown (D), OR Secretary of State, Oregon

Randi Shade, Austin City Council, Place 3, Texas

Steve Kirkland (D), Judge, 215th District Court, Texas

Rosemary Lehmberg (D), Travis County District Attorney, Texas

Lawrence Webb, Falls Church City Council At-Large, Virginia

Marko Liias (D), Washington State House, Dist 21, Washington

Larry Bliss (D), State Senate, Dist 7, Maine


John Arrowood (), Judge, NC Court of Appeals, North Carolina

Jim Roth (D), Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner, Oklahoma

Gary Sullivan (D), Little Rock District Court, Arkansas

Christopher Cabaldon (D), California State Assembly, Dist 8, California

Christopher Clark (D), Mountain View City Council , California

Dwayne Crenshaw (D), San Diego Community College BOT, California

Laurette Healey (D), California State Assembly, Dist 40, California

Maddy Hirshfield (D), Sonoma County Supervisor, California

John Karczynski (R), Anaheim City Council, At-Large, California

Victoria Kolakowski, Alameda County Superior Court Judge, California

Greg Pettis (D), California State Assembly, Dist 80, California

Greg Rodriguez (D), Palm Springs Unified School District Board of Education, California

Kriss Worthington (D), California State House, Dist 14, California

John Brady (R), DE Insurance Commissioner, Delavare

Mark LaFontaine (D), State House, Dist. 92, Florida

Keisha Waites (D), Georgia State Assembly, Georgia

Inga Taylor (D), KS State Representative, Dist 84, Kansas

Sara Orozco (D), State Senate (NORFOLK, BRISTOL, MIDDLESEX), Massachusetts

L. Garnet Lewis (D), State Representative, Dist. 98, Michigan

Victor Raigoza (D), State Representative, New Mexico

Andrew Martin (D), State Representative, Dist 13, Nevada

Fern Kaufman (D), Pennsylvania State Representative, Dist 26, Pennsylvania

Kevin Lee (D), PA State Representative, Dist 163, Pennsylvania

Linda Ketner  (D), US House of Reps, SC-1, South Carolina

Gregory Kniffen (D), State House, Dist. 12, South Dakota

Glen Maxey, Travis County Tax Assessor Collector, Texas

Justin Nichols (R), Piano City Council- Place 1, Texas

Brian Thompson (D), House of Reps, Dist 46, Texas

Andres Pereira (D), Judge, 190th Civil District Court, Texas

Jean Rietschel, King County Superior Court, Position No 37, Washington

Patrick Flaherty, Milwaukee Common Council, Dist 3, Wisconsin

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