US: In conservative Kansas, newly elected gay legislators try to make history

Protesters lined up outside, holding signs of condemnation. One read “God still hates fags.” A businessman warned that Christianity would be abolished in this Kansas City suburb if the city council were to officially protect the gay community from discrimination.

Inside, new state Rep.-elect Susan Ruiz waited expectantly, weeks of debate coming down to this vote. One of three openly gay politicians elected in November’s midterms here, Ruiz was hoping to witness another momentous change in what has long been a solidly red state. […]

Openly gay candidates won 147 state-level positions nationwide in November, and the number in Congress rose from seven to 10, according to the Victory Fund, which raised a record $2 million on behalf of LGBTQ candidates this election cycle.

Advocates say that they expect the number to grow and that it could have a significant impact on the 2020 race, particularly in suburban battlegrounds with college-educated voters in states like Kansas.

And those elected are expected to be key to equality efforts in the nation’s statehouses, where some conservative legislatures have enacted legislation viewed as limiting LGBTQ rights since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage in 2015. Just in May, for example, the Kansas legislature passed a bill that allows faith-based adoption agencies to turn away same-sex couples based on religious beliefs.

“What happened in 2018 is going to be amplified,” said Annise Parker, the openly gay former Houston mayor who now heads the Victory Fund. “Our candidates are running everywhere. People think the rainbow wave was part of the blue wave, and it was, but we also did well in places like Kansas, Ohio and Nebraska. We’re going to contend in those places because that’s where we live and that’s where our candidates want to run.” Read more via Washington Post