LGBTQ candidates vying for seats in the New York State Legislature enjoyed a strong night at the ballot box, even as Republicans staved off an opportunity for Democrats to achieve a veto-proof supermajority in the State Senate.
Unofficial results on election night indicate that Democrats fell well short of their goal of flipping the two seats necessary to make the supermajority dream a reality, where Democrats entered the election with control of 40 seats compared to 21 for Republicans. In fact, unofficial returns suggest the Democratic majority could shrink to 36 — though that is still a comfortable margin in the 63-seat chamber.
GOP candidates are leading in 11 of 16 State Senate competitions that were deemed competitive this year, according to the Albany Times-Union.
Some State Senate Democrats struggle on election day with absentee votes pending
However, far more votes must be counted and officials may not finish tallying absentee ballots for up to a week or more.
Democratic control of the Senate beginning in January 2019 allowed long-deferred progress on a range of backlogged LGBTQ rights initiatives, including the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), a ban on conversion therapy for LGBTQ minors, the elimination of any gay or transgender “panic” defense available to those charged in capital cases, and reform of the state’s surrogacy law to facilitate family planning for gay couples.
The returns were promising for out queer candidates running for reelection as well as an insurgent making an historic run for office. All out incumbents won another term and out gay State Senate candidate Jabari Brisport of Brooklyn, running unoppoed, made history as the first out LGBTQ Black member of the State Legislature.
Brisport, an unabashedly progressive public school teacher, impressed during the Democratic primary contest for the open seat to replace outgoing Senator Velmanette Montgomery. He easily won a three-way race that included Assemblymember Tremaine Wright and Jason Salmon, a former aide to Montgomery.
While there are already several LGBTQ lawmakers in the lower chamber, Brisport’s victory brings much-needed LGBTQ representation in the upper house after out gay State Senator Brad Hoylman of Manhattan — and Tom Duane before him — spent years as the only out state senator.
Queer incumbents, meanwhile, did not lose a step in their re-election bids. Out lesbian Assemblymember Deborah Glick, who represents Manhattan’s 66th Assembly District, grabbed nearly 80 percent of the vote as she knocked off self-described career and business coach Tamara Lashchyk, and two other out Manhattan lawmakers — Hoylman and State Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell — walked across the finish line unopposed.
In the Rochester area, out gay Assemblymember Harry Bronson has shaken off two challengers in one year. He holds a 56 to 38 percent edge over Peter Vazquez in the general election after warding off a primary opponent earlier this year when he beat Alex Yudelson, a former policy advisor in the Obama administration, by nearly 15 points.
Elsewhere, one Senate Democrat from the city had a precarious showing on election day. Andrew Gounardes, who handily defeated incumbent Republican Marty Golden two years ago in a swing district that encompasses swaths of Southern Brooklyn, is in danger of getting toppled by GOP challenger Vito Bruno, who is up 51 percent to nearly 44 percent before absentee ballots are factored in.
Another race of note was in Manhattan, where Democratic State Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright held on to her seat after she was knocked off the Democratic and Working Families lines because her campaign did not file cover sheets for ballot petitions.
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