by Charlotte Davis

The US Midterm Elections saw a record number of minorities voted into Congress. This includes members of the LGBT+ community, which many have dubbed a ‘Rainbow Wave’.

This was a historic event in US history, especially given the recent homophobic actions taken by Donald Trump, his administration and other members of the US government. Since Trump’s 2016 election, he has taken numerous anti-LGBT+ actions. He nominated Neil Gorsuch, who has made several rulings against LGBT+ rights, to replace infamously anti-LGBT+ Associate Justice Antonin Scalia. Trump’s administration has also rescinded memos made by the Obama administration that provided protection to trans people, arguing that trans students are not protected under civil rights and enabling the federal government to claim that anti-trans discrimination is not illegal. Trump also attempted to reinstate the ban on trans people serving in the military in 2016, which the Obama administration planned to reverse in 2017.

The anti-LGBT+ legislation continued when Kansas Governor signed a bill into law that permitted adoption agencies to refuse foster care or adoption to same-sex couples, claiming religious exemption. This was shortly followed by a similar bill in Oklahoma allowing adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBT+ couples on the basis of religion. Additionally, in June, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. 

However, the 2018 midterm elections saw a small increase in LGBT+ representation across the board. Colorado’s Jared Polis became the first openly gay man to be elected as a US Governor. He became the second openly LGBT+ US Governor, joining Oregon’s Kate Brown who was re-elected on November 6th. Democratic LGBT+ Senator Tammy Baldwin was also re-elected, remaining the only openly LGBT+ politician in the US Senate. 

The US House of Representatives gained more out LGBT+ incumbents, with Kansas’ Sharice Davids, Minnesota’s Angie Craig and New Hampshire’s Chris Pappas. Craig’s win unseated Jason Lewis, the anti-LGBT+ previous seat holder, and Kentucky’s anti-LGBT+ Kim Davis was also not re-elected.  

Representation also increased at the state level: Gerri Cannon and Lisa Bunker, two transgender women, were elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives. Susan Ruiz and Brandon Woolard also became the first LGBT+ members of Kansas state legislature, and Malcom Kenyatta became the first LGBT+ person of colour to be elected to the Pennsylvania state legislature. In addition, Massachusetts voted against a bill that would repeal transgender rights. 

The 2018 U.S. midterm election resulted in the Democrats taking overall control of the house, while the Republicans gained more seats in the Senate. This marks an important power shift for the Democrats in office, as well as for women, POCs, and members of the LGBT+ community. Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and CEO of GLAAD said: “This election is shaping up to be truly historic for LGBTQ candidates and, coupled with the change in leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives, shows a rejection of the hate-fueled politics of the Trump Administration that have heartlessly targeted LGBTQ people, women, immigrants, Muslims and all vulnerable populations.” 

Charlotte Davis is an American who currently lives in London. She has recently graduated with an MA in the Reception of the Classical World. She currently also writes for an art history website and her interests are in art, art history, culture and politics.