One State Hits Milestone on LGBTQ Representation

10% of California's legislature identifies as such, a first for the nation
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 22, 2022 12:38 PM CST
One State Hits Milestone on LGBTQ Representation
Assembly Member Robert Rivas, D-Hollister, left, smiles as he takes a selfie with Democratic Assembly Member-elect Rick Chavez Zbur on Nov. 10. With the addition of Chavez Zbur and other LGBTQ lawmakers, 10% of California's Legislature now identifies as LGBTQ.   (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

While LGBTQ candidates and their supporters celebrated several milestone victories around the nation in this year's midterms, California quietly reached its own: At least 10% of its state lawmakers identify publicly as LGBTQ, believed to be a first for any US legislature. The California legislators are all Democrats, per the AP. Nationwide, at least 519 out LGBTQ candidates won elected office this year, in positions ranging from school board up to Congress and governor, said an LGBTQ Victory Fund rep. That's a record, well up from 2020, when 336 LGBTQ candidates won, according to the group, which along with Equality California calculated that California is the first state to pass the 10% threshold.

Of the 12 current or soon-to-be members of the California Legislature, eight were already part of its LGBTQ Caucus, including the leader of the Senate and three other state senators whose terms run until 2024. Four current Assembly members won reelection Nov. 8, with two new Assembly members and two new senators joining them, increasing the caucus's ranks by 50%. The AP hasn't yet called one remaining race that could add an additional LGBTQ lawmaker. The lawmakers will be sworn in for their new terms on Dec. 5. The US census has found that 9.1% of Californians identified as LGBT—compared with 7.9% for the nation overall—so the Legislature will have roughly reached parity in sexual orientation and gender identity.

"When it comes to LGBTQ people, we're on two tracks: One track is that societally we're winning," said California state Sen. Scott Wiener, a member of the LGBTQ Caucus. "People by and large are totally fine with LGBTQ people, they support us, they are accepting and willing to vote for LGBTQ candidates." Yet, he said, "you have a very vocal, dangerous minority of extremists who are consistently attacking and demonizing our community." (The milestone was shrouded by the Saturday night shooting at a gay nightclub in Colorado.)

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