South Carolina Swears In 1st Openly Gay Legislator. But How Did He Win In Such A Conservative State?

How did an openly gay Republican win against a four-term fellow Republican incumbent?  He focused on the issues and did not make his sexuality a major point of his candidacy. 

Alaska, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, and Tennessee are the only remaining states that have not elected an openly gay legislator.  South Carolina has taken itself off of the list when it swore in it's first openly gay legislator, 46-year-old divorce attorney Republican Representative Jason Elliott. 

Elliott stated that his sexual orientation was irrelevant in how he performed his job at the statehouse.  His platform's main issues to tackle were improving education, increasing jobs, and repairing the state's infrastructure. 

So how did a gay candidate win a seat in one of the more ultra-conservative parts of the South Carolina, an area home to Bob Jones University, one of the more well known Christian fundamentalist schools in the nation?  Apparently, according to the defeated incumbent Rep. Wendy Nanney, Elliott didn't tell voters he was gay.


"If it was a secret, if it was one of the worst-kept secrets I've ever known," [Elliott] said.  But he acknowledges he did not make it part of his campaign.  "You're not going to go to somebody's door and say, 'I'm a candidate for this and this is my sexual orientation.' That would be an odd way to start a conversation," he said. "When someone says, 'What's your agenda?' My agenda is the South Carolina agenda." –


To read more about the divorced father, his political beliefs, why constituents did and did not vote for him, and how Greenville, South Carolina has been changing over the past decade, head over to's piece on the election of Representative Jason Elliott.


Do you think a politician in 2017 should make his/her/their sexual identity part of a campaign?  

Should a politician push for it not being a part of the campaign?

Do you support an LGBT candidate that does not promote them being LGBT?

Wouldn't we all do better if sexuality wasn't an issue in politics?


Lanneau Grant, 74, said she knew Elliott was gay when she voted for him last June.

"Who cares? I just liked his views. I don't care what his sexual orientation is," she said while picking up her grandchildren at a Baptist church in the district. "Greenville is changing. We're getting more tolerant."  –

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