Both Democrat Torrey Harris and Republican Eddie Mannis won their elections for the Tennessee state House tonight, becoming the first two openly LGBTQ people ever elected to the Tennessee state legislature. Democrat Brandon Thomas, another openly LGBTQ state House candidate, is in a race that remained undecided as of midnight last night.
Harris prevailed against former-Democrat and notoriously anti-LGBTQ disgraced John DeBerry in House District 90. DeBerry was long known as a DINO (Democrat in Name Only) who voted more often with Republicans. After he was stripped of his party membership, his friends in the General Assembly made a rule change allowing him to run as an Independent against Harris in the general election. DeBerry lost in a landslide.
Mannis won Tennessee House District 18, after having first won a hard-fought Republican primary marred by homophobic and illegitimate attacks on his character.
Thomas is locked in a battle for District 49 against Mike Sparks, well known for his racist remarks and anti-LGBTQ stances.
Until yesterday, Tennessee was one of the last five states in the United States to have never elected an openly LGBTQ person to its state legislature. Before the election, according to a statement by the Victory Fund, there were only eight openly LGBTQ elected officials in all of Tennessee.
Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund, released the following statement about the historic victories: “Twin victories secured a long-elusive political milestone in Tennessee and will pave the way for a more representative state legislature next year. Both Torrey and Eddie sent a clear message that LGBTQ candidates can win in a deep red state while being their authentic selves. Their presence in the state legislature can dilute the most toxic anti-LGBTQ voices and lead to more inclusive legislation.”