Davante Lewis Makes History as the First Black Openly Gay Statewide Elected Official in the U.S
News & Opinion
Democrat Davante Lewis was elected as a member of the Louisiana Public Service Commission, a historic win as the first Black, openly LGBTQ person to be elected to a state-level office in Louisiana and in the United States. He beat out long-term member Lambert Bossier III in the general election on December 10th, 2022.
*Editor's Note: We previously reported that Connecticut treasurer-elect Erick Russell became the first Black openly gay man to be elected to a statewide position in the U.S., however, we redact our initial report after confirming that Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Devante Lewis became the first to make history with the title as he assumed office before Russell on Jan. 1st, 2023. Erick Russell was sworn in and assumed office on January 4, 2023. Congratulations to both gentlemen on winning their elections and for their leadership!
According to BallotPedia, the day that state legislators are sworn into and assume office after they are elected varies from state-to-state. In 34 states, legislators who are elected in November don't assume office until the following year, while in 16 states, legislators assume office before December 31 of the year in which they were elected. Please note that BP cites Lewis assuming office on Dec. 31st, 2022, but according to Davante Lewis' official Instagram, he shared that he took office on Jan. 1, 2023.
This is not only a historic win for representation but also a promising turn, as the government comes to reflect the group of people it is meant to represent. Lewis is young, black and part of the LGBTQ community, the latter two being historically underrepresented.
Davante Lewis is backed by an environmental political action committee, in which he shared plans for his newfound position of power. Lewis ran on the platform of “holding monopoly utility companies accountable”, “reaching 100% renewable electricity by 2035”, and “a Ratepayers Bill of Rights”, which is very much of what it sounds like, grouping the taxpayers’ rights into ten fundamental rights, where they are clear and accessible to the common man.
“We rose up and said Louisiana is ready for a new energy future. One in which every Louisianian can count on clean air and water, a warm house in the winter, a cool house in the summer and utility bills that don’t break the bank,” Lewis said in a statement to Associated Press.
Lewis has also taken the responsibility as the first LGBTQ elect very seriously, as he knows the lasting effects his run for this position could have on the future of LGBTQ people in positions of power.
“I think it’s important that our elected officials start to reflect the actual people of our state. The history of my election for my age, for my race, for my sexuality, is not lost on me. My success breeds success for many other candidates and I take that very seriously,” Lewis said in a December interview.
Though Lewis is the first Black LGBTQ elected official in history to hold a statewide position in the US, he will be the fourth openly LGBTQ elected official of Louisiana, joining the ranks of Baton Rouge Councilman Aaron Moak, Caddo Parish Commissioner John-Paul Young, and Alexandria City Councilwoman Catherine Davidson.