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representation matters

LGBTQ advocacy group targets redistricting to aid representation in largely gay areas

The LGBTQ Victory Fund is launching a "first-of-its-kind" redistricting effort to bolster lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender candidates nationwide next year, Politico reports. 

To do so, advocates are lobbying map-drawing authorities in certain states to classify gay populations as "communities of interest," a status given to other minority groups so they can elect their preferred candidate in local, state, or federal races, Politico writes. These specially-considered areas are known as "opportunity districts."

The Victory Fund campaign has specifically focused in on Arizona, California, Colorado, Michigan, and Montana, since redistricting in those states is handled by nonpartisan commisions rather than state legislators who might ignore public input. The strategy is simple — lobby map authorities to "keep gay areas intact," and compile data that definitively locates LGBTQ communities to move the effort forward.

"It's about the awareness that these communities exist, and not to just ignore them and to dismiss them," said Rep. Brianna Titone (D), Colorado's first transgender legislator. "We do have a collective voice that we want to be heard." Only 0.19 percent of all elected officials identify as LGBTQ, despite the community comprising at least 5.6 percent of the population, per Politico.

Notably, efforts could have their greatest impact at the municipal level, where it would likely be easier for a majority-LGBTQ community to reach "critical mass" in a city council district, writes Politico.

"We all know how consequential redistricting is for representation," added Victory Fund spokesperson Elliot Imse. "A line drawn in the middle of a neighborhood with a large LGBTQ population can be the difference between electing an LGBTQ person to city council or state legislature or having zero people in these places." Read more at Politico.