The Femo: Mary Gonzalez – a step in the right direction

by Olivia Conetta

As fellow Femo columnist Sarah Rubin pointed out this week, women are running for Congress in record numbers. In Texas over the summer, something equally exciting happened: An openly pansexual woman has been elected to the state’s House of Representatives.

Mary Gonzalez, who has already won since she faces no Republican challengers, is the state legislature’s first openly LGBT woman. Though she didn’t come out as pansexual until after she had clinched the seat — she was out as a lesbian during the campaign — she has been open about her personal life.

Gonzalez is an inspiration to LGBT and Latina women with an interest in running for political office, in no small part because she did not hide who she is during the primary.

But what if she were to face a Republican contender? Would she still win, or would her openness about her personal life damage her likelihood of being elected? Had she been elected to the seat in November, after battling against a Republican and remaining just as open about her sexual orientation, I would not have hesitated to trumpet her victory as a real milestone for women and sexual and ethnic minorities. Such a victory would mark more accurately a real change in attitudes. But we cannot judge how much the country’s attitudes have changed until we see such an election in a state like Texas.

Of course, Americans of all political stripes should cheer on Gonzalez and wish her the best in office. But we will not have won the war for greater, more proportional representation of Latinos, LGBT people, and women — or a combination of the three — until such candidates prove their electability on a two-party stage.