118th Congress has record number of lesbian, gay and bisexual members

Thirteen voting members of the 118th Congress identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual—the most openly LGB members in history. Though small, the number of LGB lawmakers in Congress has steadily increased over the past decade.

Two senators and 11 members of the House of Representatives identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of official biographies of lawmakers, campaign websites and news outlets. The previous Congress included a total of 11 LGB MPs. To date, there have been no openly transgender members of Congress.

The number of LGB members of Congress has more than tripled in recent years. In the 2011-13 112th Congress, just four members — all Representatives — identified as gay or lesbian (and none as bisexual), according to data from the Victory Fund, a political action committee that works to elect LGBTQ politicians.

In the current Senate, Democrat Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin became the first openly LGB person to serve in the chamber when she was elected in 2012, and Kyrsten Sinema, an independent from Arizona, is the first openly bisexual person to serve in both rooms.

This analysis is part of the Pew Research Center’s work to analyze the demographic composition of the United States Congress. To determine the number of LGBTQ lawmakers in the 118th Congress, we used data from the LGBTQ Victory Fund, a political action committee that works to elect LGBTQ politicians; Brookings Vital Statistics on Congress; and our analysis of official biographies, campaign websites and news articles. Data on the share of gay, lesbian, or bisexual Americans comes from Gallup.

Freshman lawmakers include all members of Congress who were first elected in a regular election in the 2022 midterm cycle.

Our analysis reflects 534 voting members of Congress as of January 3, 2023, not including a vacant House seat following the death of Democratic Virginia Representative Donald McEachin.

This analysis of LGBTQ representation by US Senators and Representatives is limited to the gender and sexual identities that have been openly represented in the US Congress. As of the 118th Congress, this includes lesbian, gay and bisexual members.

In the House, all but one of the 11 openly gay or lesbian representatives are Democrats. The exception is Republican George Santos of New York, who in the 2022 midterm cycle became the first openly gay, non-incumbent Republican to win a congressional election. (Since then, however, key aspects of Santos’ biography have been called into question.)

Seven of the 11 openly gay or lesbian representatives in the House are returning members of Congress. The four newly elected members include Santos; Robert Garcia, D-Calif., the first openly gay immigrant elected to Congress; Democrat Eric Sorensen, the first gay Congressman to represent Illinois; and Democrat Becca Balint, the first woman and first openly LGB person to represent Vermont.

Eight of the 11 House members who identify as gay or lesbian are gay men and three are lesbians.

Despite the steady increase in LGB representation on Capitol Hill, this group remains underrepresented relative to the US population as a whole. The 13 LGB members of Congress represent about 2 percent of 534 voting lawmakers as of January 3, 2023. LGB Americans make up 6.5 percent of the overall adult population, according to a 2021 Gallup poll.

Congress’s record diversity in sexual orientation sits alongside many other milestones in LGBTQ political leadership in the United States. In the November midterm elections, Maura Healey of Massachusetts and Tina Kotek of Oregon became the first openly lesbian female governors in US history. And several state legislatures now include transgender or nonbinary lawmakers for the first time, including New Hampshire, which became the first state in the country to elect a transgender man to its state legislature.