2010s

2015

Share This Year
View All Decades

Jackie Biskupski Elected Mayor of Salt Lake City

Courtesy of Mayor Jackie Biskupski
Courtesy of Mayor Jackie Biskupski

Having broken barriers as conservative-leaning Utah’s first out LGBTQ elected official, seven-term former legislator Jackie Biskupski kicked off her bid to unseat the two-term incumbent mayor of Salt Lake City in January 2015. Biskupski built a wide coalition of support, while remaining the progressive favorite in the race. Her identity was well known, as she was an outspoken LGBTQ activist who was originally spurred to run for the state House after it passed an anti-LGBTQ “no promo homo” law.  

Winning the primary and general elections, Mayor Biskupski took office on January 4, 2016. She served one term, bowing out of a 2019 re-election campaign to spend more time with her family.  

Mayor Jackie Biskupski speaks at the 2019 Salt Lake City Women’s March, where she called on Utah to pass the Equal Rights Amendment. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg Comes Out

Mayor Pete Buttigieg
Mayor Pete Buttigieg

Just days before the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling that guaranteed same-sex couples the right to marry, Pete Buttigieg – the young mayor of South Bend, Indiana – penned an op-ed to his constituents in the South Bend Tribune explaining why the pending ruling was personal. 

“Like most people, I would like to get married one day and eventually raise a family. I hope that when my children are old enough to understand politics, they will be puzzled that someone like me revealing he is gay was ever considered to be newsworthy.”

Buttigieg – who was first elected mayor in 2011 – described his struggle with coming to terms with his identity and his subsequent struggle to broadcast it publicly. 

I was well into adulthood before I was prepared to acknowledge the simple fact that I am gay. It took years of struggle and growth for me to recognize that it’s just a fact of life, like having brown hair, and part of who I am. Putting something this personal on the pages of a newspaper does not come easy. We Midwesterners are instinctively private to begin with, and I’m not used to viewing this as anyone else’s business.

Buttigieg was overwhelmingly re-elected in November 2015, becoming the first out LGBTQ person elected mayor in Indiana.

When a presidential candidate in April 2019, Buttigieg spoke about his decision to come out at Victory Fund’s National Champagne Brunch in Washington, DC:

Two LGBTQ Leaders Elected in Music City

Nashville-Davidson County Metro Council Member Nancy VanReece
Nashville-Davidson County Metro Council Member Nancy VanReece

In the 2015 elections, out candidates Nancy VanReece and Brett Withers both won seats on the 40-member Nashville-Davidson Metro Council as Democrats in a year when local politics were taking a left turn. No out LGBTQ person had served on the Council since 2009, and 2015 marked the first time two out councilmembers served together. In later years, more LGBTQ members joined their ranks, and in 2019, Nashville’s out councilmembers formed the Council’s official LGBTQ Caucus, under the leadership of VanReece. 

Aisha Mills Selected as Victory President & CEO

Aisha C. Mills speaks at the 2017 International LGBTQ Leaders Conference.
Aisha C. Mills speaks at the 2017 International LGBTQ Leaders Conference.

Well known for her work helping pass marriage equality in the District of Columbia, her extensive media appearances and her intersectional research at Center for American Progress, Aisha C. Mills was selected as the first woman and the first permanent Black executive of LGBTQ Victory Fund and LGBTQ Victory Institute. Mills was the first Black woman to ever lead a national LGBTQ organization. 

During her tenure, she oversaw the implementation of a strategic plan that placed Victory Fund and Victory Institute at the forefront of the fight for LGBTQ rights on the state level in all 50 states and emphasized building the pipeline of trans leaders and LGBTQ people of color running for office.

During Mills’ leadership, America elected its first out governor – Oregon’s Kate Brown – as well as the first out transgender state lawmaker, Danica Roem of Virginia. 

Aisha C. Mills speaks outside Philadelphia’s Independence Hall to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of one of the United States’ first LGBTQ rights demonstrations.

LGBTQ Victory Fund Endorsed Candidates in 2015

LGBTQ Victory Fund endorsed 69 candidates in 2015.

Wins:

Jose Cisneros (D), San Francisco Treasurer, California

Geoffrey Kors (D), Palm Springs City Council, California

Tim Orozco (D), San Jose City Council, California

JR Roberts (D), Palm Springs City Council, California

Refugio Rodriguez (D), Los Angeles Board of Education, California

Rochelle Galindo (D), Greeley City Council, Colorado

Debra Johnson (D), Denver City Council Clerk and Recorder, Colorado

Robin Kniech (D), Denver City Council, Colorado

Daryl Finizio (D), New London Mayor, Connecticut

Pedro Segarra (D), Hartford Mayor, Connecticut

James Cappleman (D), Chicago City Council, Illinois

Raymond Lopez (D), Chicago City Council, Illinois

Deborah Mell (D), Chicago Chicago City Council, Illinois

Richard Rykhus (D), Evanston/Skokie School Board, Illinois

Tom Tunney (D), Chicago City Council, Illinois

Zach Adamson (D), Indianapolis City Council, Indiana

Pete Buttigieg (D), South Bend Mayor, Indiana

Alex Morse (D), Holyoke Mayor, Massachusetts

Denise Simmons (D), Cambridge City Council, Massachusetts

Patrick Wojahn (D), College Park Mayor, Maryland

Kenson Siver (D), Southfield Mayor, Michigan

Gary Anderson (DFL), Duluth City Council, Minnesota

Em Westerlund (DFL), Duluth City Council, Minnesota

Jolie Justus (D), Kansas City City Council, Missouri

Eddie Zimpel (D), Butte Public Schools Trustee, Montana

Alvin Austin (D), Charlotte City Council, North Carolina

LaWana Mayfield (D), Charlotte City Council, North Carolina

Michael DeFusco (D), Hoboken City Council, New Jersey

Timothy Eustace (D), General Assembly State Leg, New Jersey

Reed Gusciora (D), General Assembly State Leg, New Jersey

Patrick Davis (D), Albuquerque City Council, New Mexico

Steve Napier (D), Cohoes City Council, New York

Shannon Hardin (D), Columbus City Council, Ohio

John McManus (D), Dayton Board of Education, Ohio

Stephen Marc Beaudoin (D), Multnomah Edu. Service Dist. Board, OR

Abbe Fletman (D), Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, Pennsylvania

Hugh Fitzpatrick McGough (D), Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, Pennsylvania

Nancy VanReece (D), Nashville City Council, Tennessee

Robert Gallegos (D), Houston City Council, Texas

Mike Laster (D), Houston City Council, Texas

Jackie Biskupski (D), Salt Lake City Mayor, Utah

Derek Kitchen (D), Salt Lake City City Council, Utah

Mark Levine (D), House of Delegates State Leg, VA

Joe McDermott (D), King County Council, Washington

Michael Scott (D), Bainbridge Island City Council, Washington

Ty Stober (D), Vancouver City Council, Washington

Losses:

Ginny Foat (D), Palm Springs Mayor, California

Travis Leiker (D), Denver City Council, Colorado

Patty Morey-Walker (D), Greenfield Mayor, Massachusetts

Emily Dievendorf (D), Lansing City Council, Michigan

Jocelyn Pritchett (D), Mississippi State Auditor, MS

Anita Green (NP), Missoula City Council, Montana

Mark Kleinschmidt (D), Chapel Hill Mayor, North Carolina

Billy Maddalon (D), Charlotte City Council, North Carolina

Lee Storrow (D), Chapel Hill City Council, North Carolina

Carol Rizzo (D), Monmouth County Freeholder, New Jersey

Amos Goodman (R), Suffolk County Legislature, New York

David Donofrio (D), Prairie Township City Council, Ohio

JT Neuffer (NP), Lakewood City Council, Ohio

Eric Gutshall (D), Dauphin County Controller, Pennsylvania

Sherrie Cohen (D), Philadelphia City Council, Pennsylvania

Paul Steinke (D), Philadelphia City Council, Pennsylvania

Ginny Deerin (D), Charleston Mayor, South Carolina

Paula Foster (D), Nashville City Council, Tennessee

Chooch Pickard (D), Memphis City Council, Tennessee

Lane Lewis (D), Houston City Council, Texas

Sophia Hawes-Tingey (D), Midvale City Council, Utah

Justin Leighton (D), Tacoma City Council, Washington

Michael Maddux (D), Seattle City Council, Washington

Keep in Touch

Stay up-to-date on the latest in LGBTQ representation and
Victory Institute's work increase the number of LGBTQ public leaders.
join our movement