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November 16, 2012

Baldwin wins Senate seat, six others head to House

She will be the first out senator, with a record number in Congress

Washington, D.C.--Seven out men and women won their congressional races on November 6, including a race that made history, giving the country its first openly gay or lesbian senator.

Tammy Baldwin, moving from the House of Representatives, defeated former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson to take the Senate seat being vacated by the retirement of Sen. Herb Kohl.

While the vote count was neck-and-neck, Baldwin edged out the popular former governor 51.5 percent to 45.9 percent.

Her seat in Congress, meanwhile, remains in gay hands, with Marc Pocan defeating Republican Chad Lee, who ran against Baldwin for the House of Representatives in 2010.

California will send the first Asian American out lawmaker to Congress in January following the election of Mark Takano, while Arizona’s Krysten Sinema becomes the first openly bisexual member of Congress to be elected.

Former Clinton advisor Sean Patrick Maloney unseated the moderate Republican Nan Hayworth in New York, which might be a break-even for the LGBT community, as Hayworth was a fairly strong supporter of gay rights issues.

The two incumbents, Colorado’s Jared Polis and Rhode Island’s David Cicilline, were both reelected. A third incumbent, Barney Frank of Massachusetts, is retiring.

The only LGBT person to lose his bid for the national legislature was Richard Tisei of Massachusetts, who would have been the first openly gay Republican elected to Congress (two previous gay Republicans came out while in office). He lost to incumbent John Tierney.

A number of states also elected their first out LGBT legislators. Stacie Laughton is now the first trangender person elected to a state legislature with her victory in New Hampshire, while voters in Florida, West Virginia, North Dakota and Pennsylvania also sent out people to their statehouses, according to the Victory Fund, a Washington, D.C. group that backs gay and lesbian candidates.

Tim Brown, a Wood County commissioner, will be the first out Republican elected to a state legislature with his election to the Ohio House of Representatives, where he will join Nickie Antonio, the state’s first out legislator, who was reelected.

Maine residents elected Justin Chenette to the state House of Representatives; he is the youngest lawmaker in the country. However, Craig Cassey, elected to the D.C. Advisory Neighborhood Commission, is the youngest out person ever elected to office in the country.

Mark Farrandino, an out state representative in Colorado, will now be the speaker of the house, which has moved to Democratic hands. The state joins California and Rhode Island with out speakers.

In the Colorado Senate, gay lawmaker Pat Steadman may win the office of Senate president, which would make Colorado the only state with both chambers of the legislature controlled by openly gay lawmakers.

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