The obstacles faced by LGBTQ political candidates in the US
The LGBTQ Victory Institute revealed in a new report that many LGBTQ political candidates– especially LGBTQ women– faced serious roadblocks in their run for office.
In a survey of almost 300 former, current and prospective political candidates across the country, many cited the many common obstacles they faced.
These include high campaign costs, physical threats, anti-LGBTQ bigotry, external perceptions of their qualifications, and a lack of political mentors.
LGBTQ political candidates are winnable
But despite these obstacles, many of the LGBTQ candidates still won.
Former Houston Mayor Annise Parker, president of the LGBTQ Victory Institute, said: “The barriers for LGBTQ women–and LGBTQ women of color and trans women in particular– are enormous, yet we know that when they run, they win.”
“By understanding the barriers better and working to reduce their impact, we can encourage more LGBTQ women to run and increase our numbers in elected office,” Parker said.
Presently, while women hold a fourth of the seats in the House and the Senate, LGBTQ women are underrepresented in the political representation in the US.
Out of the 535 members, there are only four out lesbian and bisexual women in Congress– and no openly transgender member of Congress.
Meanwhile, out of 7,383 seats in state legislatures across the US, only 98 lesbian, bisexual, and transgender women are lawmakers, or 1.3 percent, said LPAC, a Super PAC that campaigns for LGBTQ and women’s rights.
How LGBTQ women are hindered from running
One of the barriers cited by many of those surveyed was financial, or the money required to run a competitive campaign. They said that they worried about their ability to raise money and access donor networks.
Because of this, almost half of former and current candidates– as well as 60 percent of potential candidates– hesitated to run because of fundraising concerns.
LPAC Executive Director Lisa Turner said, “With the evolution of campaigns, they are getting bigger, more expensive, more crowded– and a lot of LGBTQ women run in primaries.”
Turner said that men– even gay men– have an advantage over women when it comes to attracting campaign dollars.
This is ironic as queer women have a higher rate of electoral success as noted by the Institute.
Challenges facing LGBTQ political candidates
Aside from financial, 40 percent of prospective and 16 percent of current and former candidates expressed concern about taking off time from work to campaign.
Moreover, respondents of color were more likely to report these concerns.
The majority of potential candidates– 3 out of 5– included in the survey expressed concerns about facing violence and verbal attacks on the campaign trail.
Meanwhile, 45 percent of current and former candidates reported the same concerns. And nearly 4 out of 5 of transgender women reported that they feared violence based on their gender identity.
Lastly, over 50 percent of potential candidates expressed concerns about running for office after seeing LGBTQ and women candidates targeted in bigoted attacks.
And 60 percent of potential candidates of color said seeing others face racist attacks made them concerned.