Today the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and Institute ( Victory ) released a new research brief titled More Than Represent: LGBT Elected Officials Drive Equality in the States that shows the relationship between the number of openly LGBT public officials a state has and its level of LGBT equality. There is clear evidence that openly LGBT people form relationships with their colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, and change minds about LGBT equality — and votes.
The research overlays the number of openly serving LGBT elected officials in states with the Movement Advancement Project's State Equality Index, and finds that:
More openly LGBT public officials in a state leads to a greater number of LGBT legal protections.
Nearly 70% of states with 5 or fewer openly LGBT public officials have few if any LGBT legal protections.
About two-thirds of states with 11 or more openly LGBT public officials have complete or near complete LGBT legal equality.
100 percent of the states with no openly LGBT legislators have few if any LGBT legal protections.
"Our analysis shows convincingly that LGBT representation matters and is a game-changer on school boards, in city councils, and in state legislatures where our equality is still debated each and every day," said Aisha Moodie-Mills, President & CEO of Victory.
Recent anti-LGBT legislative activity in Georgia, North Carolina, and Mississippi demonstrates the power of having openly elected LGBT officials in state legislatures. There were no openly LGBT state legislators serving in North Carolina or Mississippi when the latest anti-LGBT bills were signed into law. Yet in Georgia, where there are 3 openly LGBT state legislators, the Governor ultimately refused to sign the anti-LGBT legislation into law.
"LGBT elected officials are on the front lines of anti-LGBT policy battles, advocating for equality on behalf of all of us. It is critical that we have more voices at decision-making tables, because it's clear that when we're not at the table we're on the menu," adds Moodie-Mills.
This research brief is the first from the Victory War Room, Victory's new campaign and communications engine that will serve as a megaphone to promote the impact of LGBT public officials and discredit opponents of LGBT leadership who aim to thwart equality by spreading false and malicious information about LGBT candidates and political issues. The Victory War Room is the "place for LGBT politics" and will replace the organization's long-running Gay Politics Report, victoryfund.org/our-story/gaypolitics/ .