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First openly LGBTQ person elected to Indiana legislature

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A 36-year-old Democrat has ousted a Republican state senator who’s served at the Statehouse since 2005. 

The win in Tuesday’s election came on J.D. Ford’s birthday. But, perhaps more significantly, he will be the first openly LGBTQ person ever elected to the Indiana General Assembly and only the fourth openly LGBTQ elected official in the state, according to the LGBTQ Victory Fund. The group had contributed $2,500 to Ford’s campaign and helped him raise more than $4,000 for his campaign.

Although Marion County planned to continue to count votes Wednesday, Ford was leading over Republican state Sen. Mike Delph on Tuesday night, 24,696 to 21,514. Delph’s District 29 includes much of Pike and Wayne townships in Indianapolis, and in western Carmel and Zionsville. 

Ford made a speech to Democrats at their celebration in downtown Indianapolis and later spoke to News 8’s Eric Feldman as supporters waved “J.D. Ford for State Senate” signs in the background. 

Ford said he believed, as he traveled to meet voters and sent out postcards, that he connected with people who felt left out. 

“Without getting into too much of it, I think my opponent has spent most of his time in the General Assembly kind of marginalizing those different people that I mentioned in my speech tonight, LGBTQ+ Hoosiers. So, for me, I’m really excited to get to work for everybody in our district and our state.”

About being called the first “out” LGBTQ member elected to the state legislator, Ford said, the historical significance is not lost on him. 

“I think that, as I traveled the district, I heard so many people say that they felt that Indiana was going in the wrong direction. And I think with our win tonight, with our election, with our victory, I think that shows people not just in our state but in our country, and even in the world for that matter, that Indiana is moving in the right direction with our election tonight.”

Mayor Annise Parker, president and CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, said in a statement from Washington: 

“The Rainbow Wave has arrived in Indiana in a spectacular way. Tonight JD made political history in becoming the first openly LGBTQ person ever elected to the Indiana General Assembly – a milestone moment for a state that was one of the few to have never elected an openly LGBTQ state legislator. But tonight Indiana voters made clear they will support LGBTQ candidates like JD who are determined to lead with solutions and have a clear passion for public service. We are certain JD’s victory tonight will inspire other LGBTQ Indianans to run for office and serve their communities.”