One Equal World

Denise Juneau: Montana’s First Openly Gay Candidate for U.S. Congress

Posted on: February 12, 2016

Image: Denise Juneau /

Image: Denise Juneau /

Bringing your significant other to a fund-raising dinner shouldn’t be a controversial thing for a congressional candidate to do. But for Denise Juneau, rising star among Montana’s democratic party, it couldn’t be anything else. In bringing her partner to the Bozeman political fundraiser, she was coming out. That night, Saturday January 28th 2016, she blew open her ‘open secret’ and became the first openly lesbian candidate for Congress.

In addition, Juneau is also the first Native American to hold statewide office in Montana as superintendent of schools. Her time in that office has been exactly the kind of representation any group could wish for; she’s an effective and competent legislator. Under her aegis, the state’s graduation rate has risen and the drop-out rate for Montana’s Native American population has dropped by 30%. She also backed a state-wide Student Advisory Board that gives children a voice in their own education, and an anti-bullying law.

It’s this last one that gives particular weight to the statement that Juneau’s office released in regards to the general surge of comment following her appearance at the Bozeman fundraiser. It made no mention of her sexuality, but instead spoke at length about how her experience combined with her public office that make her a strong choice to speak against bullying and to address the challenges faced by Montana youth.

Her opponent for the Congressional seat, incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke, also released a statement, wishing her the best and congratulating her on having ‘somebody strong and loving’ by her side for the campaign.

Juneau is confident that her sexuality, while exciting a brief burst of news and gossip, will not be at the forefront of voter’s minds come elections, and that they will vote for who they believe will represent them best.


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