For the first time in 24 years, Utah will not have an openly gay or lesbian lawmaker on Capitol Hill
For the first time since 1998, there will be no LGBTQ legislators on Utah’s Capitol Hill when newly elected leaders are sworn in January of 2023.
Sen. Derek Kitchen lost his bid for reelection by 61 votes. Pediatric emergency department doctor and opioid mitigation advocate Jennifer Plumb earned 4,383 votes to Kitchen’s 4,322.
Plumb’s support mainly came from the east side of the Senate district, which runs from Redwood Road on the west to the foothills on the east, Fourth North on the north to 17th South on the South. Plumb lives in Emigration Canyon.
During the race, Kitchen attempted to differentiate himself, saying he was the only queer person in the senate and the only Millenial. Plumb shot back that Kitchen was being ageist and that he wasn’t an effective lawmaker. Plumb touted her success at pushing naloxone access and syringe exchanges.
Kitchen was unceremonially removed from the Utah Senate Education Committee by Democratic Sen. Karen Mayne in the last legislative session.
Plumb will face a write-in candidate but is expected to sail through the November election.
Since 1999, when Jackie Biskupski was sworn in after being elected to the Utah House of Representatives, there has always been at least one openly LGBTQ representative in the Utah Legislature.
Biskupski ran for the Utah House District 30 when Gene Davis decided to run for state senator. (Davis lost his re-election bid this year.)
In her early years, some legislators refused to look her in the eye or shake her hand. Utah Eagle Forum President Gayle Ruzicka fought hard against her at first. But over the years, she began to consider Biskupski a friend.
Biskupski went on to win six more elections, serving for a total of 12 years, through 2011, before she decided to move to a larger house outside her district as she began to raise a family.
She fought hard to remove a ban on adoptions by same-sex couples as well as remove unconstitutional language making sodomy illegal in the state.
Scott McCoy entered the Utah Senate in 2005 when Paula Julander announced she would leave her seat because of health reasons. Political experts expected her husband, Rod, to take her seat, but a heavily LGBTQ turnout at a Salt Lake County Democratic Party meeting to vote on Paula’s replacement elected McCoy.
Christine Johnson, a year later, ran for House 25 when Ross Romero decided to run for the Senate.
McCoy left his seat in 2009 and Johnson left hers in 2010, both to pursue their respective careers.
Brian Doughty won Johnson’s seat and served from 2011 through 2013 when he lost his seat to redistricting.
Jim Dabakis was appointed by a Democratic committee to replace Ben McAdams, who was elected as Salt Lake County Mayor in 2011. Dabakis served through 2019 and endorsed Kitchen to replace him.
Kitchen won the seat in 2019, becoming the lone LGBTQ person on the Hill.
For three years, from 2006 through 2009, Utah boasted three LGBTQ representatives in the state legislature. For eight years there were two and since 2014 just one.
“When LGBTQ elected leaders are in the room, they humanize our lives, impact policy, and legislative debates, and influence straight lawmaker colleagues to vote in favor of equality. LGBTQ elected officials are our best defense against anti-LGBTQ efforts at all levels of government, and are best positioned to advance equality for our community,” writes LGBTQ election group Victory Fund. Q