LGBT+ candidates have surfed a rainbow wave to victory in the U.S. elections as early results suggest a series of historic wins, including Sarah McBride becoming the first openly transgender person to win a State Senate seat.
At least 35 of a record 574 LGBT+ candidates on the ballot were estimated to have won as of early Wednesday, including Ritchie Torres and Mondaire Jones, respectively the first out gay Afro-Latino and Black men elected to Congress
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"Tonight's wins for LGBTQ people of color and transgender Americans across the country are historic and long overdue," said Sarah Kate Ellis, president of the LGBT+ rights organization GLAAD, in a statement.
"Their victories represent a leap forward for LGBTQ acceptance and a demand for more of the progress and equality that their very presence demonstrates."
A National Election Pool exit poll conducted by Edison Research suggested that LGBT+ voters represent 7% of the 2020 electorate, higher than the estimated 4.5% of the adult population.
LGBT+ voters made up 6% of the electorate in the 2018 midterm elections, and 5% in the 2016 presidential elections.
As the 2020 presidential election result teetered on a knife edge, with millions of votes still uncounted, LGBT+ rights groups said the early wins showed the growing political importance of the community.
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"Over the last three elections, the share of LGBTQ voters has continued to increase, solidifying our community as a key rising constituency that politicians must court," Human Rights Campaign president Alphonso David said in a statement.
"Our issues matter, our votes matter and politicians around the country have taken notice.
McBride tweeted that she hoped her victory "shows an LGBTQ kid that our democracy is big enough for them, too" after winning the State Senate race in Delaware.
In an emotional video interview posted to social media before his official win was confirmed, Torres thanked his mother for helping his campaign in South Bronx.
"I would not be here today if it not were for my mother," he told reporters from Spectrum NY1, a local TV channel.
"And South Bronx is full of mothers like mine who have suffered and struggled and sacrificed so that her baby boy can have a better life than she did."