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LGBTQ Victory Institute to induct four historic LGBTQ lawmakers into Hall of Fame

Leo Varadkar, Kate Brown, Christine Kehoe and Andrea Jenkins are this year's honorees.

victory institute
From left to right: Leo Varadkar (Photo: Oireachtas), Kate Brown (Photo: Facebook), Christine Kehoe (Photo: Facebook), and Andrea Jenkins (Photo: Tony Webster, via Wikimedia).

The LGBTQ Victory Institute will induct four political leaders into its 2021 class of the LGBTQ Victory Hall of Fame, an honor reserved for elected and appointed individuals or candidates for office who made a significant and lasting impact on LGBTQ political history.

This year’s class includes Leo Varadkar, the former Taoiseach and current Tánaiste of Ireland; Oregon Gov. Kate Brown; former California State Sen. Christine Kehoe, and Minneapolis City Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins. All four will be inducted at a ceremony during LGBTQ Victory Fund’s 30th Anniversary Gala, at the Marriott Marquis on Saturday, Dec. 4 at 6 p.m.

The One Victory Board of Directors voted to induct the four into the Hall of Fame, which was first launched in May with 21 founding inductees. Additional members will be inducted each December going forward.

“The 2021 inductees to the LGBTQ Victory Hall of Fame shattered lavender ceilings to become historic firsts in their positions and then made LGBTQ equality a priority when in office,” Annise Parker, a former Mayor of Houston and the current president and CEO of LGBTQ Victory Institute, said in a statement.

“Their victories and leadership opened doors for more LGBTQ people to follow in their footsteps and to view public service as the best avenue for change. We are honored to induct them into the Hall of Fame so their contributions are forever remembered.”

Varadkar, who is openly gay, served as Ireland’s Taoiseach from 2017 to 2020, is the fourth out LGBTQ person in modern history to serve as a head of government, as well as the youngest Taoiseach and first prime minister of Asian descent.

A member of political party Fine Gael, he was elected to the Dáil Éireann in 2007 and soon elevated to a number of leadership roles, becoming minister for health and minister for social protection. In 2017, as leader of Fine Gael, he led the party to victory, paving the way for his election as Taoiseach. While in office, he supported a nationwide referendum modernizing Ireland’s abortion laws, which voters overwhelmingly approved in 2018 — something important for LGBT Victory Fund, which not only requires its endorsed candidates to support the expansion of LGBTQ rights, but reproductive freedom as well.

Brown, who is bisexual, made history as the first out LGBTQ person elected statewide when she became secretary of state in 2008, following stints in the Oregon House of Representatives and the Oregon Senate, where she served as majority leader. She later assumed the governorship in 2015 following the resignation of former Gov. John Kitzhaber (D), and was elected to serve out the rest of his term in a special election in 2016, before winning a full term in her own right two years later. 

Kehoe, an LGBTQ rights and AIDS activist, was first elected to the San Diego City Council in 1993, becoming the first out LGBTQ elected official in the county. She was later elected to the California State Assembly, where she served for 12 years. During her tenure, she co-founded the state’s LGBT Legislative Caucus, authored the state’s largest energy conservation bill, and was elected Assembly Speaker Pro Tem, the chamber’s second-highest-ranking position. In 2004, Kehoe was elected to the state Senate, where she served until 2012.

Related: LGBTQ Victory Institute adds milestones to its political history timeline

Jenkins, the first out Black transgender woman to win elected office in the United States and the vice president of the Minneapolis City Council, was first elected in 2017. Her election also marked the first time in history that an out transgender woman was elected to a major city’s council. Prior to becoming a candidate, she served as a City Counil staffer for twelve years. From 2015 to 2018, she worked as an oral historian for the Tretter Transgender Oral History Project at the University of Minnesota, documenting the stories of transgender and gender non-conforming Midwesterners.

The Victory Fund’s 30th Anniversary Gala comes on the heels of LGBTQ Victory Institute’s 2021 International LGBTQ Leaders Conference, which will be held at the JW Marriott in Washington, D.C. from Wednesday, Dec. 1 to Saturday, Dec. 4.

The annual conference brings together hundreds of LGBTQ elected leaders, advocates, and prospective candidates from across the globe for a series of plenaries, workshops and networking events focused on running for office, how to best serve constituents, the importance of pro-LGBTQ legislation at the federal and state levels, the attack on voting rights, the rise in bills targeting members of the transgender community, and specific issues such as climate change and immigration.

U.S. Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) will speak at the conference, where he will be honored with the Congressional Ally Award, on Thursday, Dec. 2. Giving the conference’s opening keynote address that same day will be U.S. Assistant Secretary of Health Admiral Rachel Levine, the first out transgender person to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Other speakers at the conference will include California State Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins; congressional candidates Michele Rayner, Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, and Daniel Hernandez; Deputy of the Venezuelan National Assembly Tamara Adrián; Guatemalan Congressman Aldo Dávila; and Georgia state Representation Park Cannon, as well as others.

For more information on LGBTQ Victory Institute’s 2021 International LGBTQ Leaders Conference, visit www.lgbtqleaders.org

For more information on LGBTQ Victory Fund’s 30th Anniversary Gala, visit www.victoryfund.org/event/gala.

See also:

Virginia school board removes ban on LGBTQ books after board member threatened to burn them

Florist who refused to provide flowers for a gay wedding will pay gay couple $5,000

Gay British doctor could lose job over pro-trans tweets

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