November 8, 1977. On this day, 34 years ago, Harvey Milk became the first openly gay man to be elected to office in a major U.S. city. His assassin, Dan White was also elected that day.
While Harvey inspired many while he was alive, it wasn’t until the Academy Award-winning film was released a few years ago that he became a household name. Since then, dozens of openly-gay elected officials have followed in his footsteps. Organizations like the Victory Fund have helped to see LGBT leaders elected all over the country – from bluer states like Rhode Island to the reddest of states like Texas.
Harvey understood that by electing gay people to office, it would give young people hope. He understood that by seeing openly-gay people in positions of power and leadership would know that they could too, succeed.
Tomorrow, dozens of LGBT candidates will face voters. One of those candidates (though a longshot at unseating an incumbent) is Bevan Dufty, a San Francisco City Supervisor who is sitting in the very same seat that Milk served in 34 years ago. Victory Fund highlights “10 Races to Watch” for those interested in seeing more LGBT candidates make history.
Not to pick any one of these out as I’m sure they are all wonderful candidates, but openly-gay 22 year-old and Point Foundation scholar Alex Morse is running for Mayor of Holyoke, Massachusetts. As a Mass. native, I’m especially proud to see this going on. Daniel Hernandez Jr. – the young gay man who saved the life of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is also running for office in his local school district.
Please check out Victory Fund’s full list of “10 Races to Watch”:
Zach Adamson, Indianapolis City Council – Adamson could become Indianapolis’ first openly LGBT city council member. Learn more here.
Caitlin Copple, Missoula, Montana City Council – Missoula has become a focal point of the Montana debate over LGBT non-discrimination laws. Copple’s election would add an authentic voice from the LGBT community to this discussion and many others concerning her community. Learn more here.
Bevan Dufty, San Francisco Mayor – A former San Francisco Supervisor who represented the same district as Harvey Milk for 8 years, Dufty is prepared to continue Milk’s legacy and serve as the top elected official in the city. A victory in this race would make him San Francisco’s first openly LGBT mayor. Learn more here.
Patrick Forrest, Virginia State Senate – If he wins, Patrick would become the only openly LGBT Republican state legislator in America, and one of the first openly LGBT members of the Virginia Senate. Learn more here.
Daniel Hernandez, Jr., Sunnyside Unified School District Board of Governors, Tucson, Ariz. – When his boss, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, was shot along with numerous others at a district event in Tucson, Hernandez sprang into action and is credited with helping to save Giffords’ life. The world marveled at his quick thinking and leadership qualities on display that day, and many have urged him to consider a career in public service. Learn more here.
LaWana Mayfield, Charlotte, N.C., City Council – Mayfield’s primary victory made national news because Charlotte has never elected an openly LGBT city council member. She’ll finish the job and join the council if she wins her general election. Learn more here.
Pam Miller, Savannah, Ga., City Council – Miller could become the first openly LGBT candidate in Georgia to win outside the Atlanta metro area. Learn more here.
Alex Morse, Mayor, Holyoke, Mass. – At just 22, Morse already has a public service record to rival candidates twice his age. In the primary he bested the incumbent mayor by a single vote. He could make history this November as the city’s youngest and first openly LGBT mayor. Learn more here.
Rory Neuner, Lansing, Mich., City Council – Neuner has already worked to make Lansing a better city, and her door-to-door campaign for city council could make her the only openly LGBT city council member. Learn morehere.
Chris Seelbach, Cincinnati, Ohio, City Council – Seelbach has already been instrumental in making Cincinnati a more welcoming place for all families. Now he could become its first openly LGBT city council member.
If voting is taking place in your state, town or district, please make sure you vote. Staying home is not an option. Obviously support the candidate who best speaks to you and your family’s needs, but above all, do not stay home. Our futures depend on it.