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Highlights From the International LGBTQ Leaders Conference


Over 140 elected LGBTQ officials and 400 other attendees attended the Victory Institute’s LGBTQ Leaders Conference held in Washington DC recently. Key themes were sharing winning strategies and messages to get LGBTQ leaders elected at all levels of government. 

Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin said LGBTQ candidates won by speaking about issues that people worry about such as health care coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. She noted that the LGBTQ community can have coat tails helping other candidates. 

Trans Virginia House of Delegates member Danica Roem echoed the message saying she ran on a promise to fix State Route 28 and get a new commuter bus to Haymarket. Roem was awarded the Tammy Baldwin Breakthrough Award.  Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts was awarded the Ally Award by the Institute. She urged Congress to pass the Equality Act.

Governor elect Jared Polis of Colorado noted he was the first openly gay parent in Congress. Now 8 members of Congress are LGBT and the Equality Caucus in Congress has 100 members.

Victory Institute President and CEO Annise Parker (formerly the Mayor of Houston) said Indiana, Kansas and Nebraska had elected LGBTQ members to their state legislatures for the first time, calling it a rainbow wave.

Florida State Representative Carolos Guillermo Smith of Orlando spoke on a panel with other newly elected LGBTQ millennial legislators. He noted that the Progressive Caucus in Florida now has 4 State Senators and 16 State Representatives. He noted the importance of fighting for equality of everyone (women, immigrants, felons).  Guillermo Smith also talked about forming coalitions such as when the Pulse survivors reached out to the Parkland community in a push to end gun violence. He also noted the power of social media which was used to get Publix to change its policy and begin covering Prep in its drug plan coverage for its employees. 

Also attending was State Representative Jennifer Webb who represents the St. Petersburg area. 

The Victory Institute will hold a training for Florida LGBTQ officials on March 16. Details may be found on their website, victoryinstiute.org. The Victory Institute hosts several trainings a year for those thinking about running for elected office. They also have several fellowships for interns on Capitol Hill.

For a list of the 700 LGBTQ elected officials, visit outforamerica.org.

Bill Malcolm as a hobby writes a syndicated LGBTQ value travel column which appears in publications around the country. All or part of this story may appear in other publications. His opinions are his own. He resides in Indianapolis.

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