2011 Election Roundup: LGBT Equality Victories

Voters across the country demonstrated their support for equality and the LGBT community Tuesday.  Yesterday’s election saw a slew of victories for LGBT candidates and equality.  Across the country, openly gay candidates were elected or re-elected to office, many becoming the first openly gay elected officials in their respective states.  An anti-discrimination law in Michigan extending protections to LGBT individuals was also upheld, and voters in Maine showed they don’t support anti-gay campaign tactics.  Here are highlights from the election, followed by a comprehensive list of openly gay candidates who were elected on Tuesday.


Democratic candidate Liz Mathis defeated her Republican opponent Cindy Golding in Iowa’s special State Senate election.  Liz Mathis has a demonstrated record as a supporter of LGBT equality, and her victory solidifies a promising future for marriage for same-sex couples in Iowa.  The National Organization for Marriage and other anti-gay groups campaigned heavily to defeat Mathis and to overturn marriage equality in the state.  Mathis’ victory solidifies the pro-equality majority (26-24) in the Iowa Senate.


Nearly two-thirds of voters in Traverse City voted to uphold an ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation.


Voters in Maine upheld Question 1, allowing same-day voter registration.  Republican opponents of same-day voter registration published ads employing anti-gay tactics to defeat Question 1, citing Equality Maine’s support for the measure and questioning why a marriage equality group would back the measure.  Despite their efforts, Maine has retained same-day voter registration.


Adam Ebbin has been elected to the Virginia State Senate, becoming Virginia’s first openly gay senator.  Ebbin has been a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, representing the state's 49th district in Northern Virginia since January 2004. 


Openly gay Annise Parker has been re-elected to a second term as the mayor of Houston.  Parker is the first openly gay elected mayor of a major US city, as well as Houston’s second female mayor. 

North Carolina:

Democratic candidate LaWana Mayfield has become the first openly gay city council member in Charlotte. 

Openly gay Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt won re-election by a landslide. 


Openly gay 22-year-old Alex Morse has become the nation’s youngest mayor as he defeated incumbent Mary Pluta in Holyoke.


Pedro Segarra, Hartford’s first openly gay mayor, won his first full term in Tuesday’s election.  He was previously appointed as the city’s mayor in June 2010 when his predecessor was forced to step down.

New Jersey:

Two openly gay candidates were elected to the New Jersey State Assembly.  Maywood Mayor Tim Eustace won his bid, and incumbent Reed Gusciora was re-elected.  Eustace and Gusciora serve as the state’s only openly gay state lawmakers.

Openly gay Republican candidate Bruce Harris was elected as mayor of Chatham Borough, N.J.


Chris Seelbach is now the first openly gay city council member elected in Cincinnatti.


 Zach Adamson is now the first openly gay City Council member in Indianapolis.


Seattle elected two openly gay city council members, Sally Clark and Tom Rasmussen.


Michael Smith defeated incumbent Mary Gray Black for a seat on the Largo City Commission.  Black has a history of anti-gay and anti-trans activism and attacked Smith for his sexual orientation during the campaign.


Caitlin Copple has become the first openly gay councilmember to be elected to the Missoula City Council. 


Openly gay Daniel Hernandez, Jr., who helped save the life of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, has won election to the Tucson school board.

Other results:

Tuesday’s election also saw a couple of anti-LGBT candidates win election or re-election.  Rose Marie Belforti was re-elected as town clerk of Ledyard, NY.  She had previously refused to sign marriage licenses for same-sex couples.

Though his re-election has not yet been confirmed, Manuel Rodriguez, Jr., appears to have won his seat on the Houston Independent School District board.  Rodriguez utilized an anti-gay ad against his opponent, Ramiro Fonseca, pointing to LGBT advocacy groups that had endorsed Fonseca as well as Fonseca’s relationship with a “male partner.”  Equality Texas, an advocacy group dedicated to LGBT and marriage equality, is discussing possible options with organizations on the ground in Houston if the trustee’s re-election is confirmed.

Comprehensive list* of LGBT candidates elected to office on Tuesday, November 8, 2011:

Joel Burns, Forth Worth City Council, Texas

Ray Johnson, Village of Oak Park Trustee, Illinois

Ken Schneck, Brattleboro Selectboard, Vermont

Larry Forester, Signal Hill City Council, California

Robin Kniech, Denver City Council, Colorado

James Cappleman, Chicago City Alderman, 46th Dist., Illinois

Debra Johnson, Denver Clerk & Recorder, Colorado

Steve Kornell, St. Petersburg City Council, Florida

Ed Zipprich, Red Bank City Council, New Jersey

Sally Clark, Seattle City Council, Washington

Tom Rasmussen, Seattle City Council, Washington

Bruce Kraus, Pittsburgh City Council, Pennsylvania

Annise Parker, Mayor of Houston, Texas

Ryan Mello, Tacoma City Council, Washington

Zach Adamson, Indianapolis City Council, Indiana

Pedro Segarra, Mayor of Hartford, Connecticut

Bruce Harris, Mayor of Chatham, New Jersey

Denise Simmons, Cambridge City Council, Massachusetts

Alex Morse, Mayor of Holyoke, Massachusetts

Chris Seelbach, Cincinnati City Council, Ohio

Reed Gusciora, New Jersey State Assembly, Dist. 15, New Jersey

Adam Ebbin, Virginia State Senate, Dist. 30, Virginia

John Kashwick, Borough of Closter Council, New Jersey

John Campbell, Harrisburgh City Treasurer, Pennsylvania

Tim Eustace, State Assembly, Dist. 38, New Jersey

Geraldine Delevich, New Hope Borough Council, Pennsylvania

Mary Doran, St. Paul School District, Minnesota

Joe McDermott, King County Council, Washington

Hugh McGough, Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, Pennsylvania

Elinor Warner, Easton City Council, Pennsylvania

Ken Zalewski, Troy City Council, Dist. 5, New York

LaWana Mayfield, Charlotte City Council, Dist. 3, North Carolina

Clifford Cunningham, Chelsea City Council, Massachusetts

Caitlin Copple, Missoula City Council, Montana

Daryl Finizio, Mayor of New London, Connecticut

Patrick Wojahn, College Park City Council, Maryland

Anthony Cannataro, Civil Court NYC, New York

Robert Gelder, Kitsap Board of Commissioners, Washington

Michael Sabatino, Yonkers City Council, New York

Ken Reeves, Cambridge City Council, Massachusetts

Steve Pougnet, Mayor of Palm Springs, California

David Vela, Montbello School Board, California

Kecia Cunningham, City Commissioner Decatur, Georgia

Stephanie O’Brien, Marin College Trustee, California

Jass Stewart, Brockton City Council, Massachusetts

Dave Coulter, Mayor of Ferndale, Michigan

Michael Smith, Largo City Commission, Seat 1, Florida

Michael Laster, Houston City Council, Seat J, Texas

Ruth Atkins, Emeryville City Council, California

Juanita Gonzales, El Monte School Board, California

Daniel Hernandez, Sunnyside Unified School Board, Arizona

Lydia Lavelle, Carrboro Board of Alderman, North Carolina

Jose Solache, Lynwood School Board, California

Lee Storrow, Chapel Hill Town Council, North Carolina


*List courtesy of Victory Fund.  Based on results as of the publishing of this blog post. 


Christopher Santorella, GLAAD's Media Field Strategy Intern, co-authored this blog post.