Jul 25, 2022 - Politics

Record number of LGBTQ+ candidates file for Minnesota Legislature

Illustration of a pride flag yard sign
Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

A record number of openly LGBTQ+ candidates are running for Minnesota Legislature in this year's midterm elections.

What's happening: At least 11 candidates who identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community will appear on ballots for the Aug. 9 primary, according to a list compiled by state Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis).

The big picture: Advocates say a record-breaking number of LGBTQ+ candidates are running across the nation as lawmakers in many states advance proposals that could curtail their rights.

What they're saying: Dibble, who is gay, said the high interest from Minnesota candidates is "absolutely a response to [a] national coordinated effort to attack LGBTQ people and trans youth."

  • Growing LGBTQ representation at the local level, including on city councils, has also created a "pipeline" of potential candidates to run for state Legislature or Congress.

Zoom in: State House candidate Leigh Finke told Axios she started thinking about running after the introduction of a 2021 bill that would make it a misdemeanor for trans students to participate in school sports or use the locker room for females.

  • Finke, a journalist and activist, will be Minnesota's first openly transgender legislator if she wins her bid for an open House seat that includes parts of Falcon Heights, Roseville and St. Paul.
  • "It became extremely important for me to have a trans person at the Capitol to have a voice," the St. Paul Democrat told Axios. "We've never been represented."

Flashback: Minnesota made history as the first state with an openly gay state legislator after Sen. Allan Spear came out in 1974.

  • Since then just 10 more out legislators have served, per Dibble's count. Five of those lawmakers are currently in the Legislature.
  • "I'm really excited for the company," Dibble said.

What to watch: A number of the candidates, including Finke and former state Rep. Erin Maye Quade, are running in competitive primaries next month.

  • The outcome of those races will influence overall representation at the Capitol next year.
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