All eyes on election night will be on the results of the presidential race, but a number of races throughout the country have major LGBTQ implications.
Here’s our rundown of races to watch while you’re awaiting the results of the presidential election:
LGBTQ Caucus in Congress Could Expand With New Members
The U.S. House has a real opportunity to expand the caucus of LGBTQ lawmakers — from seven openly gay members to a total of 15 — if out congressional candidates prevail in competitive races.
Non-incumbents running against Republican lawmakers are Jon Hoadley in Michigan, Pat Hackett in Indiana, and Tracy Mitrano in New York. Gina Ortiz Jones is running against a Republican candidate in an exceedingly close open House seat in Texas. Beth Doglio in Washington State and Georgette Gomez in California are running against fellow Democrats after the jungle primaries in their states.
Meanwhile, Mondaire Jones and Ritchie Torres have won primaries in New York, both of whom are set to win their “blue districts” and become the first openly gay Black members of Congress.
The competitive races in Michigan and Texas have gotten ugly. In Michigan, TV ads are being run against Hoadley based on blog posts he wrote in his youth referring to straight people as “breeders,” talking about wanting to learn about crystal meth and writing about a four-year-old wearing a thong out of context. Meanwhile, Jones is facing ads from the National Republican Congressional Committee denouncing her for supporting access to transgender surgeries for U.S. service members.
U.S. Senate may Flip to Democratic Control
Passing the Equality Act, which would expand the prohibition on anti-LGBTQ discrimination in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, will likely require Democratic control of the House, Senate and White House — and all three may be achieved on election night.
Republicans currently hold 53 seats in the Senate and Democrats would need four pickups to take the majority (or three if Joe Biden is elected and Kamala Harris becomes president of the Senate in her capacity as vice president.) Although Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) is likely to lose to a Republican, Democrats will likely take the seats of Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), and have good chances of winning against Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).
Additionally, Democrats have a chance for a pickup in Georgia, where Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) is running against Jon Ossoff and a jungle primary will determine the seat for retiring Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.).
Rep. Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) and Matt Mowers (Photos courtesy campaigns)
Chris Pappas Faces Stiff Republican Competition in New Hampshire
While the LGBTQ caucus in Congress may be expanded, in terms of the incumbents one openly gay member at risk of losing his seat on Election Night is Rep. Chris Pappas (D-N.H.). Real Clear Politics recently changed the rating for the race between Pappas and Republican challenger Matt Mowers in New Hampshire’s 1st congressional district from “leans Democratic” to “toss-up,” even though Pappas has been consistently polling ahead of Mowers by single digits.
Seizing on this apparent opportunity, Mowers during a recent debate with Pappas accused him of withholding from the public the fact he has been dating a lobbyist for Amazon. Pappas has denied the accuracy of that claim, and congressional ethics experts have told the Washington Blade he’s under no obligation to disclose his dating life under spousal rules for the U.S. House. Meanwhile, Mowers is facing a congressional ethics investigation for obscuring his past work for big pharmaceutical companies by illegibly writing that information on his disclosure forms.
Sarah McBride at the Human Rights Campaign national dinner. (Blade photo by Michael Key)
Transgender Candidates Poised to Win Historic Victories
Transgender candidates, which until Danica Roem’s 2017 victory in Virginia were virtually absent from public office, are poised to achieve historic wins in state legislatures. Sarah McBride, the transgender advocate and the first openly transgender person to speak before the Democratic National Convention in 2012, is poised to win a state Senate seat in Delaware and become the highest-ranking transgender legislator in the country.
Meanwhile, Stephanie Byers in Kansas, Madeline Eden in Texas, Jessica Katzenmeyer in Wisconsin and Taylor Small in Vermont would all become the first out transgender state legislators in their states.
Another transgender candidate has higher aspirations and is seeking congressional office: Mia Mason is seeking to unseat Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) in an uphill battle to replace the Republican incumbent.
Supreme Court to Hear Case on LGBTQ Foster Care
We’re going to cheat a little bit here and include upcoming oral arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court in an important LGBTQ-related case. After all, the hearing will take place on the day after Election Day, when the world will likely still be awaiting the final tabulation of the results for the presidential race.
Catholic Social Services, in the case of Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, is arguing a First Amendment right to refuse to place children with same-sex couples — even though it had signed a contract with Philadelphia agreeing not to engage in anti-LGBTQ discrimination through its taxpayer-funded activities. Acting U.S. Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall is set to represent the Trump administration and argue on behalf of Catholic Social Services, while the American Civil Liberties Union has intervened in the case.
If the Supreme Court — which has a new 6-3 conservative majority in the aftermath of the confirmation of U.S. Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett — accepts the argument of Catholic Social Services, it would have implications beyond LGBTQ people and could weaken non-discrimination laws and policies based on race, gender, religion and national origin.
This article originally appeared in the Washington Blade and is made available in partnership with the National LGBT Media Association.