With the coming out of a mayor in Mississippi, 48 US states now have openly lesbian or gay public officials.
Republican Mayor Greg Davis of Southhaven, Mississippi, the state’s third-largest city, came out last month, saying:
At this point in my life and in my career, while I have tried to maintain separation between my personal and public life, it is obvious that this can no longer remain the case. While I have performed my job as mayor, in my opinion, as a very conservative, progressive individual — and still continue to be a very conservative individual — I think that it is important that I discuss the struggles I have had over the last few years when I came to the realization that I am gay.
Davis made the comments after a newspaper revealed that his expenses included a visit to an adult store catering to gay men while on a recruitment trip to Canada.
Only Alaska and South Dakota now are lacking openly gay officials or politicians.
Tiffany Muller, Vice President for Programs at the Victory Institute, said:
It’s important that people know there are LGBT people serving in public office, especially in their own communities. That doesn’t mean that LGBT issues are front and center in their work. In some cases just being open and honest about that part of our lives has great potential to deepen understanding of our community, and that makes a huge difference.
She hopes to see the ‘milestone’ of an ‘out’ official in every state reached in 2012.
The Victory Institute maintains an up-to-date database of ‘out’ LGBT officials, and in recent years elected officials in states like Kansas, South Carolina, West Virginia and North Dakota have been added. They also run training and professional development programs and have supported many candidates who’ve gone on to be elected.
In 1974 Kathy Kozachenko became the first openly lesbian American elected to public office when she won a seat on the Ann Arbor, Michigan city council.
Picture by Tjook