Kathy Kozachenko, first out politician elected in US, to be honored

Kathy Kozachenko, the first out politician elected to public office in the U.S., will be honored with a statue on the 50th anniversary of her historic election.

The city of Ann Arbor, Mich., will honor Kozachenko, who successfully ran for a seat on the city council at the age of 21 in 1974. While two members of the same city council, Jerry DeGrieck and Nancy Wechsler, came out during the term preceding her election, Kathy Kozachenko was the first person to win an election campaigning as a self-identified gay.

With the backdrop of an unpopular war in Vietnam and President Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal back at home, Kozachenko ran on a platform centering on corruption reform and social revolution as a member of the Human Rights Party, a socialist party that gained success at the ballot box following the ratification of the Twenty-sixth Amendment in 1971 which lowered the national voting age to 18.

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Kathy Kozachenko served only one term in office from 1974 to 1976, but before retiring from politics and later focusing on building a family with her partner and their son.

“People have asked why I’m not still in politics,” she told BTL in 2021. “I was really never in politics. I was a part of a social justice movement and running for office and elections was one part of how we wanted to share our ideas and make change. I’m still very much a social justice activist even though I’m not someone who is into party politics per se.”

Ann Arbor City Council member and Mayor pro-tem Travis Radina said in a post to X, formerly known as Twitter, that the council is raising $100,000 for the statue.

“Kathy’s election helped pave the way for thousands of openly LGBTQ elected officials in the decades that followed her election, including my own and those of at least 1,185 LGBTQ+ out elected officials currently serving in the United States today,” Radina wrote.

The statue is due to be dedicated next year.

This article originally appeared on Advocate.com, and is shared here as part of an LGBTQ+ community exchange between Q Voice News and Equal Pride.

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Donald Padgett

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