Texas state Sen. Molly Cook

Molly Cook — the bisexual woman who in April became Texas’ first openly-LGBTQ state senator when she won a special election to fill the District 15 Senate seat through the end of this year, on Tuesday, May 28 — won the runoff to become the Democratic nominee for that seat in the November general election.

John Whitmire had represented District 15, which encompasses a portion of the city of Houston, since 1983. He stepped down late last year after winning his bid to become mayor of Houston. Cook then placed second to Jarvis Johnson in the Democratic Primary in March to determine who will hold the seat for the next four-year term, forcing the race into a runoff.

On Tuesday, Cook defeated Jarvis for the second time this month, winning by 74 votes, based on complete but as yet unofficial results. Cook, an emergency room nurse and community organizer, now faces Republican candidate Joseph L. Trahan in the November general election.

Dallas County Sheriff

Lupe Valdez

Incumbent Marian Brown on Tuesday defeated former sheriff Lupe Valdez to win another four-year term as Dallas County Sheriff.

When she was first elected sheriff in 2005, Valdez became the first woman, the first Latina and the first openly-LGBTQ person to hold that office. She stepped down in 2017 to run for governor of Texas, winning the Democratic nomination — the first openly-LGBTQ person to win a major party’s nomination for a statewide Texas elected office — but lost to Greg Abbott in the general election.

Valdez conceded the election to Brown shortly after 11 p.m. Tuesday, saying, “This race was never about us. This race was about highlighting the many problems at the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department and bringing light to a failing department. Our campaign was honored to be able to bring attention to the many issues affecting deputies, morale and the safety of our inmates and the citizens of Dallas County. Our hope is that our campaign brought light to these issues and that they will lead to an improved sheriff’s department. “I would like to thank all of my supporters, friends and the many deputies who worked so tirelessly for our campaign,” she said.

Campaign official Mike Hendrix added, “Lupe Valdez would like to thank Commissioner John Wiley Price and Sheriff Brown for a well-fought campaign. Lupe would also like to thank the many LGBTQ+ voters and volunteers who campaigned so hard for equal representation. We could not have done it without each and every color of the rainbow.”

Texas House District 146

Lauren Ashley Simmons

Openly-LGBTQ candidate Lauren Ashley Simmons defeated anti-LGBTQ Democratic incumbent Shawn Nicole Thierry in Tuesday’s runoff for the Democratic nomination in Texas House District 146, 64.6 percent to 35.4 percent.

Simmons will now face off against Republican Lance York in the November election.

Equality Texas, the largest nonprofit in Texas focused on securing full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people and GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, are responding to the results of Tuesday’s Texas House District 146 Democratic Primary runoff between LGBTQ candidate Lauren Ashley Simmons and incumbent Shawn Thierry, who had voted for anti-LGBTQ legislation during the last state legislative session.

Simmons has said she decided to run against Thierry last year after Thierry broke ranks with her Democratic colleagues to vote in favor of right-wing Republican legislation denying gender-affirming health care to transgender youth. In her election night speech on Tuesday, she said, “I had no idea how any of this was going to turn out almost a year ago when I set out to do this. But I knew I wasn’t happy with what was going on around me, and I wanted to be the change that I wanted to see.”

LGBTQ advocates applauded Simmons’ win. Ricardo Martinez, CEO of Equality Texas said, “This is a victory for all Texans, a clear message to the establishment that Texans won’t tolerate hate against their neighbors. You can’t stand on the House floor and amplify dangerous disinformation about trans Texans. If you do, the rest of us will step up to demand accountability and equality for our neighbors.

“We’re in this together, and lawmakers should take heed: Using the LGBTQIA+ community as a scapegoat has consequences,” he added. “Texans’ hearts are bigger than narrow-minded policies. Today, Lauren Ashley Simmons won because she has consistently stood with her community, fighting alongside us, not against us.”

Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), said the primary runoff results “show that voters are demanding equality, compassion and service in their elected leaders.

“As a member of the LGBTQ community, Simmons has promised to fight for all Houstonians and against the rising tide of anti-LGBTQ bills in the Lone Star State,” Ellis said. “Simmons’ primary win proves that Texans will use their voices and votes for leaders who advocate for all, including the LGBTQ community.”