Victory honors Transgender Day of Remembrance

Victory would like to take this time to commemmorate transgender victims of violence in accordance with Transgender Day of Remembrance. Started in 1998 to mark the murder of Rita Hester in her home, Transgender Day of Remembrance is now in its 16th year and observed in hundreds of cities worldwide.

While the transgender community is all too often the target of violence, their cases and concerns rarely get the attention they deserve. Today, we honor those victims and rededicate ourselves to ensuring a future where everyone can live authentically without fear.

More information about Transgender Day of Remembrance, including events being held today, is available at the Transgender Day of Remembrance website

Cincinnati earns perfect score on HRC equality index

The city of Cincinnati, Ohio on Wednesday received a perfect score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s 2014 Municipal Equality Index, capping a stark turnaround for a city who only 10 years ago included a charter preventing LGBT citizens from becoming a protected class.

The Municipal Equality Index (MEI) rates 353 municipalities across the country, including the 200 most populous cities, and is based on the LGBT inclusivity of laws and services in a particular city. Cincinnati earned a 90 in last year’s rankings, compared to a 77 when HRC rolled out the index in 2012.

In 2011, Cincinnati elected its first openly gay city official when Victory endorsed candidate Chris Seelbach won his bid for a seat on the city council. While his victory was a sign of changing times for the city, Seelbach’s involvement in local politics dates back to before his time in office. In 2004, Seelbach played a leading role in a successful effort to repeal Article XII, a city charter disallowing LGBT citizens to protections based upon their sexual orientation.

Article XII, passed by voters in 1993, gave the city a reputation for being a conservative stronghold unwelcoming of members of the LGBT community. The charter’s passing led many LGBT Cincinnatians to leave for more welcoming environments and cost the city an estimated revenue loss of over $25 million, according to the Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Since the repeal of Article XII in 2004, Cincinnati has taken a number of steps towards the level of equality that helped earn the city its perfect score. Much of the progress made would not have been possible without authentic and powerful representation from an out elected leader like Seelbach, who has since led the charge to see a domestic partner registry so that city businesses could more easily extend benefits to same-sex couples. In addition, Seelbach helped pass legislation giving benefits to city employees’ same-sex partners.

Cincinnati’s evolution into a place where the LGBT community is welcomed and celebrated is in large part due to Seelbach’s pro-equality policy accomplishments. Victory commends councilmember Chris Seelbach and congratulates the city of Cincinnati on its exemplary level of LGBT inclusion.

Study finds relationship between LGBT inclusion and economic development

A new study released today by the Williams Institute finds a link between a country’s inclusiveness towards the LGBT community and its economic performance. Titled The Relationship between LGBT Inclusion and Economic Development: An Analysis of Emerging Economies, the study examines the economic impact of LGBT inclusion in 39 countries and finds that in countries where more LGBT inclusive environments exist, so too does greater economic development.

The study defines “inclusion” as “the ability to live one’s life as one chooses,” taking legal rights into account. It measures economic development by the country’s GDP and Human Development Index (HDI), a score based on life expectancy, education, and income.

According to the study, there is substantial evidence that curtailing LGBT freedoms impacts a country’s overall economic standing. When police forces unjustly arrest members of the LGBT community, those citizens no longer contribute to the economy while they are incarcerated. LGBT discrimination in the workplace also contributes to underemployment or unemployment for the LGBT community meaning even less otherwise capable citizens participating in the economy. Similar negatives outcomes are found when anti-LGBT discrimination in the school system prevents students from reaching their full potential.

When looking at the counties examined, it is important to note that 29 of them have emerging economies with large economic growth and 10 of them feature significant and politically engaged LGBT social movements. This diverse selection provides a well-rounded idea of how LGBT inclusion and economic development are linked.

Although this is not the first study to reach this connection, it does provide a concrete framework for understanding how development and legal rights are connected. The framework provided by the Williams Institute will inform international leaders that the LGBT policies their countries choose to adopt have ramifications far beyond the LGBT community.

The Williams Institute study was conducted with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute, and over 20 other organizations.

Credited writers of the study include: M.V. Lee Badgett, Sheila Nezhad, Kees Waaldijk, and Yana van der Meulen Rodgers.

To read the study in its entirety, click here.

Victory Election Wrapup: November 4, 2014

Last night, Victory staff members sat glued to monitors as they tracked the state of 123 endorsed candidates' races across the country. As vote totals in contests from Maine to California slowly trickled in, the state of LGBT representation in 2015 and beyond grew clearer.

The night played host to some crucial wins for out officials, most notably policymakers on Capitol Hill. All 6 Victory endorsed members of Congress will hold onto their seats after last night’s election - Rep. Mark Takano of California, Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney of New York, Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, and Rep. Mark Pocan of Wisconsin all came out victorious.

Returns in Maloney's bid for a second term were close for much of the night. Victory staff that assisted the Maloney team in a last minute get-out-the-vote effort watched anxiously as precincts reported close numbers in the swing district. Ultimately, Maloney’s hard fought battle produced a victory which will ensure authentic representation can continue in the Hudson Valley. Victory is proud to have stood by Maloney in his race and happy to congratulate him on his win.

Out candidates also broke new ground in Massachusetts, where Maura Healey became the first openly LGBT attorney general candidate ever elected in the United States. As she prepares to take office, Victory looks forward to watching Healey continue to build a strong record of advocacy for our community.

Victory candidates successes were not limited to the Northeast. Idaho's John McCrostie won his race for the state’s 16th House District, making him the state’s only openly gay official and ensuring that our community has an elected voice fighting for us in all 50 states.

Reminding us that our path to Victory is often a difficult one, the night saw losses for some endorsed candidates. Mike Michaud came up short in his race for the governorship of Maine, a difficult outcome that preceded one of the hardest fought races Victory has ever seen. District of Columbia Councilmember David Catania also lost his independent bid for mayor, ultimately earning 36% of the vote.

Despite these defeats, the outlook remains bright with over 60% of Victory endorsed candidates coming out of last night successful. We are extremely proud of the role our staffers, board members, donors, and volunteers played in each of these victories. We head into 2015 with heads held high and ready to fight for ourselves, change hearts and stand up to anyone who would keep us down.

Lamb wins Council race in Kentucky

Victory endorsed candidate Susan Lamb won her race for Lexington-Fayette County Council on Tuesday, bringin much-needed representation to the Bluegrass State's LGBT community.

Lamb has worked for the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government for over 27 years, serving as Deputy Council Clerk for 17 of those years before being appointed Council Clerk in 2008. During her time in the Council Clerk’s office, Lamb implemented several system updates, including a legislative management system where the public can follow legislative items as they move through the Council’s Standing Committees and the transition of the country government’s antiquated records center to a new state-of-the-art Records Center & Archives facility.

In 2013, Lamb was named Kentucky’s Municipal Clerk of the Year. She has been a member of Bluegrass Municipal Clerks Association (BMCA), Kentucky Municipal Clerks Association (KMCA), and International Institute of Municipal Clerks. She currently serves on the Central Kentucky Council for Peace and Justice Board. Most recently, Lamb attended the Victory Institute's Candidate & Campaign Training in Kansas City, Mo.

Takano wins reelection to House

Rep. Mark Takano of California won reelection to a second term in California's 41st House district on Tuesday night, ensuring LGBT people of color have an authentic voice on Capitol Hill.

First elected in 2012, Takano represents Riverside, Moreno Valley, Perris and Jurupa Valley in the United States Congress.

In addition to serving as one of seven co-chairs of the LGBT Equality Caucus, Takano is a member of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee and the Education and Workforce Committee.

A resident of Riverside, Takano attended Harvard College and received his bachelor's degree in Government in 1983.

Polis wins fourth House term in Colorado

Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado won election to a fourth term in the House of Representatives on Tuesday night and will continue representing the state's Second House district on Capitol Hill.

Polis was first elected in 2008, when he became the first openly gay parent in Congress, and later won reelection in 2010 and 2012.

He serves as one of seven co-chairs of the LGBT Equality Caucus, and is an original cosponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act which would allow recognition for same-sex couples in the U.S. Polis is also a supporter and cosponsor of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

Polis, his partner, Marlon Reis, and their two children reside in Boulder, Colorado.

Sinema wins second House term in Arizona

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona secured another term in the House of Representatives Tuesday, defeating her challenger in the race to represent the state's 9th Congressional district.

Sinema was first elected to Congress in 2012, becoming the first openly bisexual person to win a House race. A lifelong fighter for equality, Sinema has campaigned against measures to ban the recognition of same-sex marriages in Arizona.

Growing up in Arizona to a working class family, Sinema completed her undergraduate studies at Brigham Young University and earned a Master’s degree in Social Work from Arizona State University. In 1999, Sinema became a social worker and dedicated herself to helping struggling families. She would go on to earn her Juris Doctor from Arizona State University College of Law in 2004 and a Ph.D in Justice Studies from Arizona State in 2012.

Maloney wins reelection to House

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney of New York secured a second term representing the stat'es 18th district in the House of Representatives Tuesday night, fending off a strong challenger in a close contest.

With 100% of precincts reporting, Maloney led Republican Nan Hayworth by a 49% to 48% margin.

First elected in 2012, Maloney holds the distinction of being New York’s first openly gay congressman. He currently serves on the House Agriculture Committee and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, groups important in creating jobs in the Hudson Valley.

As a former senior advisor to President Bill Clinton, Maloney worked as part of a team that balanced the budget and paid down the debt, all while creating over 800,000 jobs in New York.

Webb wins key Arkansas contest

Victory endorsee Kathy Webb has won the race to represent Ward 3 on the Little Rock, Arkansas City Board of Directors.

Webb has served as an Arkansas State Representative from 2007 until 2012, where she earned the distinction of being the first openly LGBT member of the state’s House of Representatives.

She has served on the University of Arkansas Medical School Board of Visitors, receiving the Legend Champion Award from Arkansas Kids Count Coalition, JCA Humanitarian of the Year Award, First Branch Award from the Arkansas Judicial Council and Pioneer Award from the National Association of Women Business Owners.

Webb has also been honored by the Arkansas AIDS Foundation, Arkansas Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers and has received the Hendrix College Ethel K. Millar Award for social justice. In 2012, TALK BUSINESS rated her as the Most Effective Member of the Arkansas House of Representatives.

A former small business owner, Webb resides in Little Rock and is currently Executive Director of the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance.

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