Election 2024

Robert Garcia becomes the first out LGBTQ immigrant elected to Congress

Long Beach, California mayor Robert Garcia
Long Beach, California mayor Robert Garcia Photo: LGBTQ Victory Fund

Two-term Long Beach mayor Robert Garcia (D) has become the first out LGBTQ immigrant elected to Congress. He will represent California’s 42nd district.

Garcia immigrated to the United States at age 5 and holds an M.A. from the University of Southern California and an Ed.D. in Higher Education from Cal State Long Beach, where he also earned his B.A. in Communications.

“My mom brought me to this country when I was 5. She risked everything so that I could succeed,” Garcia said in a tweet when he announced his Congressional campaign. “Every single kid deserves the same shot that this country has given me.”

“Robert has a proven track record of delivering real results for his community, from safeguarding abortion rights to championing education and climate policy,” said Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund in a statement.

“Voters were excited and motivated by his vision for the future. With anti-LGBTQ and anti-choice legislation currently moving through Congress, the stakes of this election could not have been higher – and California voters delivered.”

“We are confident Robert’s deep policy experience and ability to build strong, diverse coalitions will make him an exceptional legislator. His win tonight will inspire countless other LGBTQ and first-generation Americans to pursue careers in public service.”

Garcia is also only the second out Latino to serve in Congress.

In 2009, Garcia became the first LGBTQ person of color elected to the Long Beach City Council; in 2014, he became mayor of the city. In 2018 he married his husband, Matt Mendez. That same year, he won reelection with nearly 79 percent of the vote. He’s also become known for sharp remarks on Twitter.

He also became recognized for his management of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic in the Southern California city. In July 2020, he lost his mother and stepfather to the virus.

Garcia was considered a candidate for Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) to appoint to the Senate seat vacated when then-Sen. Kamala Harris became Vice President. Newsom selected Secretary of State Alex Padilla in January instead.

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