SANTA FE, N.M. — It took nearly 200 years of American history before the first openly gay candidate was elected to office.
According to the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, which works to elect LGBT candidates to public office, Kathy Kozachenko was the first, winning a seat on the City Council in Ann Arbor, Mich., in 1974. That same year, another lesbian, Elaine Noble, was elected to the Massachusetts House, and Minnesota State Sen. Allan Spear came out as gay.
In 1977, Harvey Milk became the first openly gay man to win election, earning a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. He served 10 months before he was assassinated by a fellow supervisor. The latter part of Milk’s life was portrayed by Sean Penn in the 2008 film “Milk.”
The first openly gay mayor in the country was Richard Heyman of Key West, Fla., who served from 1983-85 and 1987-1989. He later died of AIDS-related pneumonia in 1994.
In recent years, there has been a modest wave of LGBT mayors elected.
In 2008, Sam Adams was the first to be elected mayor of a U.S. city with a population of more than 500,000, winning the position in Portland, Ore. That same year and in the same state, Stu Rasmussen became the nation’s first transgender mayor, winning the seat in Silverton, Ore.
In 2009, lesbian Annise Parker was elected mayor in Houston. She married her partner last year in Palms Springs, Calif., since her home state does not allow same-sex marriage.
Last year, Seattle elected its first gay mayor when longtime state legislator Ed Murray defeated the incumbent. When gay candidate Don Guardian won election as mayor in Atlantic City, N.J., he became the first Republican mayor of that city in 23 years.
While Javier Gonzales became the first openly gay mayor of Santa Fe, he is not the first mayor of a U.S. state capital. That distinction goes to David Cicilline, who served two four-year terms as mayor of Providence, R.I. from 2002 to 2010.