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Negative campaigning thwarted LGBT candidates in pivotal districts, a reminder of the challenges faced by coming out of the closet.

“There is little doubt that millions of dollars in homophobic and transphobic attack ads in the final weeks of the campaign contributed to losses in two critical swing districts where LGBTQ candidates ran,” said Annise Parker, president of the LGBTQ Victory Fund. “Bigoted politicians and operatives who thrive in the politics of hate were able to peel away support from voters who don’t yet know our community. The unprecedented level of anti-LGBTQ attacks on candidates at every level this cycle will be a rallying cry for Victory Fund and our entire community. We refuse to allow these tactics to become part of the political playbook for those running against LGBTQ candidates.”

Two congressional races in particular highlighted this cruel strategy. In Michigan, state representative Jon Hoadley was the target of homophobic tropes suggesting he was a pedophile and sexual predator. In Texas, Air Force veteran Gina Ortiz Jones suffered transphobic health care attack ads. Both lost their closely contested races to Republicans. 

At last count there were nine LGBT members of Congress. All are Democrats. 

Not all results were disappointing. In Palm Springs, Calif., Christy Holstege overcame biphobic smears to win re-election to the city council. Holstege is poised to become the desert resort city’s first female bisexual mayor. 

In Hawaii, Adrian Tam defeated the leader of the Hawaii Proud Boys chapter to become Aloha State’s only LGBT state representative.