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Queers win BC by-elections

McGinn first out lesbian in BC legislature

NDPer Jenn McGinn won the riding of Vancouver-Fairview. Credit: jennmcginn.ca

Jenn McGinn is now believed to be the first out lesbian to win a seat in the BC legislature.

She was one of two queer NDP candidates to win seats in a pair of Vancouver byelections held Wednesday.

McGinn bested Liberal Margaret McDiarmid, a former president of the BC Medical Association, in the Vancouver-Fairview riding.

McGinn took 5,487 votes or 46.66 percent, while McDiarmid, garnered 4,779 of ballots cast or 40.64 percent of the vote.

Voter turnout was just over 26 percent.

McGinn says the results are part of “a dream for building a better British Columbia where everyone matters.”

And, she added: “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”

Meanwhile Spencer Herbert, Vancouver’s gay parks commissioner, won in Vancouver-Burrard.

The seat was previously held by gay Liberal Lorne Mayencourt who resigned to run unsuccessfully for the federal Conservatives in the Oct 14 federal election.

Herbert took 6,516 votes, or 50.11 percent of the vote, compared to Liberal Arthur Griffiths’ tally of 4,841 ballots, or 37.23 percent of the vote.

The voter turnout in Vancouver-Burrard was just over 22 percent.

It was a beaming Herbert who joined his fellow MLAs on stage to accept the win.

Beside him stood partner Romi Chandra whom he kissed after thanking him and his family (who were also present) for his support.

He told Xtra West he felt humbled by the results.

“The voters honoured me with their trust,” he says. “I’m going to continue to work hard for that every day.”

Former lesian city councillor Ellen Woodsworth says the election of two NDP MLAs means that human rights issues will “be back on the table in a meaningful way.”

“It’s going to counteract what’s been going on at the federal level with the Harper government,” she hopes.

Last night’s outcome in Vancouver-Burrard was markedly different than in the last provincial general election.

In 2005 Mayencourt defeated NDP candidate Tim Stevenson by 11 votes.

Stevenson, Canada’s first openly gay church minister, is now seeking re-election to city council.

NPD Leader Carole James says the arrival of more gays and lesbians in Victoria is a good thing.

“I’ve always said democracy is better served when we have the faces of our community reflected in our legislature,” she says.

The byelections put the legislature seat count at 44 Liberals and 33 New Democrats.

McGinn and Herbert won’t have long to enjoy those seats, though. A provincial general election will be held in May.

A governing party has not won a byelection in BC in nearly 30 years.