Congress Experiences Increase in Minority Women, Decrease in LGBTQ Lawmakers

By  - 
capitol congress hearing subcommittee on higher education
National Capitol

Results from the 2016 election brought good news for diversity and inclusion advocates on Wednesday: The 115th Congress will be more diverse than ever before, and the Senate will have the most women from underrepresented ethnic groups in its nearly 250-year history.

The number of female minority members of the Senate quadrupled on Election Day, growing from one to four. While just 4 percent of the 100 Senate seats are now held by women from underrepresented groups, this change marks the largest increase in female minority senators in a single election.

Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono, a Japanese American who until now was the only underrepresented woman in the Senate, will now be joined by Kamala Harris of California, who is African American and Indian American; Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, who is Hispanic; and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, who is Asian American.

The House of Representatives also experienced an uptick in diversity. Indian immigrant Pramila Jayapal joined the House representing Washington state; Stephanie Murphy, a Vietnamese American, will represent Florida; Nanette Barragan, who is Hispanic, will represent California; and Lisa Blunt Rochester and Val Demings, both African Americans, will represent Delaware and Florida, respectively.

In total, women of color will hold 38 seats in the next Congress. Of these, 35 are Democrats and three are Republicans.

The LGBTQ community also saw some changes in their representation in government. Kate Brown of Oregon became the first openly LGBTQ governor in the country. However, the number of openly LGBTQ legislators decreased for a second year in a row. Although six LGBTQ incumbents were re-elected to the House, none of the 13 LGBTQ non-incumbent candidates were elected.