Brett Watsonpolitics

Rainbow Wave - 2018

Brett Watsonpolitics
Rainbow Wave - 2018
 Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., speaks onstage at The Human Rights Campaign 2018 Los Angeles Gala Dinner at JW Marriott Los Angeles earlier this year. She's running this year for Senate, aiming to be just the second LGBTQ person elected to that body.  Rich Fury/Getty Images

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., speaks onstage at The Human Rights Campaign 2018 Los Angeles Gala Dinner at JW Marriott Los Angeles earlier this year. She's running this year for Senate, aiming to be just the second LGBTQ person elected to that body.

Rich Fury/Getty Images

Democrats have a lot of diverse candidates running this year — a record number of women, African Americans and Native Americans running in high-profile races that they hope could lead them to a blue wave. But there's also been a surge of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender candidates all across the country who want to give that blue wave a rainbow tinge.

"I think candidates are running because they see it's possible. They see the need for more LGBTQ candidates to get involved in the process. But they now see clear evidence that we can win at the very highest levels of government," said Victory Fund President Annise Parker, whose group endorses viable LGBTQ candidates. Parker was the first openly LGBTQ mayor of a major U.S. city when Houston voters elected her in 2009.

According to their data, 430 LGBTQ candidates this year have run for office at every level of government. Many say they've been pushed off the sidelines, fearing their rights are under attack. Three years after the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, they now see the Trump administration working to bar transgender people from serving in the military and promoting religious freedom laws the LGBTQ community says would legalize discrimination.

Currently, there are only six LGBTQ House members and only one lesbian senator, Wisconsin's Tammy Baldwin who's running for re-election. Baldwin could be joined by Arizona Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, who's bisexual and just won the Democratic nomination for Senate in one of the most competitive races this year.

There will be at least 22 LGBTQ candidates on the ballot for House seats this fall — several in highly competitive districts that will determine control of the House. Among the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's "Red To Blue" candidates — those with the best shot of flipping a GOP-controlled House seat — there are five LGBTQ candidates who have a viable shot of being elected in November. And with half of the current LGBTQ lawmakers in the House running for higher office, these candidates could replenish or add to their ranks.

Read the full story here:  NPR