Representation Matters Following Historic Victories, LGBTQ Elected Officials Look to Move Equality Forward

In 2020, LGBTQ people once again made history. With a historic number of LGBTQ people elected across the country in city halls, statehouses and Capitol Hill, newly elected LGBTQ officials are immediately rolling up their sleeves to serve their communities and advocate for positive change.

The Human Rights Campaign sat down with San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, Delaware state Sen. Sarah McBride and U.S. Rep. Mondaire Jones to discuss with them their historic victories and how they’re working to move equality forward.

Representation matters — and Rep. Mondaire Jones of New York’s 17th congressional district made history in November after winning his election to become one of the first Black and openly LGBTQ members of Congress (alongside Rep. Ritchie Torres) to walk the halls of Capitol Hill.

Throughout his career, Jones has dedicated his life to empowering his community and bringing a voice to the voiceless — and as a new member of Congress, Jones intends to continue working to make our nation a more equal and just place.

“I am most excited about having a new president and vice president of the United States and a Democratic-controlled Senate so that we can legislate in the best interest of the American people, including for the LGBTQ community and racial and ethnic minorities,” said Jones.

As a new member of Congress, top legislative priorities for Jones include passage of H.R. 1, the For the People Act, which would provide structural democracy reform and expand access to the ballot box, and the Equality Act to guarantee consistent, comprehensive non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people across key areas of life.

For Jones, equity is also a key issue to ensure that policies also support communities of color and those of marginalized identities who often face disproportionate health impacts, higher rates of homelessness and unemployment.

“I am deeply committed to taking a holistic view of the challenges facing the LGBTQ community and elevating people of color within our community,” said Rep. Jones. “We need more than equality, we need equity.”

With his historic election, Jones joins the 117th Congress that is poised on a path to move equality forward and advance policies to improve the lives of millions of LGBTQ people.

Sarah McBride is no stranger to making history.

McBride became the first openly transgender person to speak at a major national party convention when she addressed the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia — and in 2020, McBride made history once more after being elected to the Delaware state Senate.

With her election, McBride became the first openly transgender person to serve in the upper chamber of a state legislature in U.S. history.

As a new member of the Delaware Legislature, McBride has jumped right into the work of serving the first district and the people of Delaware.

McBride has recently been appointed chair of the Delaware Senate’s Health and Social Services Committee, which continues to lead the work addressing the COVID-19 pandemic impacting all Delawareans.

“We have to meet this moment with meaningful action,” said McBride. “[This] includes a recovery that lifts up working families and rebuilding an economy that truly works for everyone.”

On advocating for LGBTQ rights in the state legislature, McBride will lead and support on a number of key issues, including protecting LGBTQ students against bullying and discrimination, banning the so-called “gay and trans panic defense,” and strengthening constitutional protections for LGBTQ people so that the community will never face state-sanctioned discrimination.

As Delaware’s new state senator, McBride will continue to give a voice to the marginalized as a representative and an advocate — and inspire LGBTQ youth everywhere that they can run for office, and win.

“Every LGBTQ person should understand that the only limitation on our dreams is the limitation of our imagination. We have seen time and time again our individual and our collective capacity to bring about seemingly impossible change, and that includes the increasing number of LGBTQ people running for office and winning,” shared McBride. “At the end of the day, your voice matters and our democracy is big enough for you, too.”

As Congress and state legislatures across the country grow with an increasing number of openly LGBTQ members, San Diego joined in the moment with its historic election of Todd Gloria as the first openly LGBTQ elected mayor of San Diego.

As Congress and state legislatures across the country grow with an increasing number of openly LGBTQ members, San Diego joined in the moment with its historic election of Todd Gloria as the first openly LGBTQ elected mayor of San Diego.

As Mayor, Gloria began working to immediately prioritize addressing COVID-19 to ensure San Diegans can receive the vaccine as it becomes readily available and working to support communities impacted by the economic recession caused by the pandemic. Gloria also plans to focus on homelessness and housing affordability, infrastructure and climate action.

“We want to be a city that ends chronic homelessness,” said Gloria. “There are cities in the United States who have done that, and San Diego should join the ranks of those communities.”
Advancing LGBTQ equality is also included in the mayor’s goals. Gloria highlights improving access to affordable housing, raising working wages and providing economic development in neighborhoods, as homelessness and economic insecurity continues to disproportionately impact LGBTQ people and communities of color.

Gloria shared that during his time on the San Diego City Council, he worked to dedicate the first Harvey Milk Street in the U.S. to be situated in San Diego’s Hillcrest community, and now plans to continue developing the space to be a focal point for the LGBTQ community.

“We hope to take definitive steps this year on Pride serve as a convening point for our community [and] a permanent public space that communicates this is the historic heart of the San Diego LGBTQ community,” said Gloria.

Mayor Gloria also highlights key efforts to support the LGBTQ community have included the city's dedication to a housing project for LGBTQ seniors and the development of an affordable housing project for LGBTQ youth.

In reflecting on his historic election, Mayor Gloria shares that while LGBTQ people have made history across many walks of life, including running and winning elections for public offices, there is still much work to be done to ensure LGBTQ people can be true to themselves openly and authentically.

“I want to do all that I can to let LGBTQ youth know that there is a world out there that will support them, love them for who they are, and there are leaders who will fight for their rights,” said Gloria.


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The Fight for LGBTQ Equality Ahead

With LGBTQ people elected across the country now more than ever, a pro-equality House of Representatives and Senate and a pro-equality Biden-Harris administration, there is now an opportunity to advance LGBTQ rights and improve the lives of millions of LGBTQ people across our country.

HRC recently published its Blueprint for Positive Change 2020, an important brief that includes more than 85 policy recommendations, reaching across the federal government, aimed at bettering the daily lives of LGBTQ people at home and abroad.

HRC Foundation and the Equality Federation Institute also recently released their seventh annual State Equality Index, a comprehensive report that details statewide laws and policies that affect LGBTQ people and their families and assesses how well states are protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination. In December 2020, HRC Foundation released its ninth annual Municipal Equality Index, which is the only nationwide assessment of LGBTQ equality regarding municipal policy, law and services.

To view and learn more about HRC’s Blueprint for Positive Change and indices, go to For more information on your federal elected officials and where they stand on legislation that impacts the LGBTQ community, visit Your Elected Officials.


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