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January 11, 2013

Congress now has seven out members

Tammy Baldwin becomes first openly gay senator

Washington, D.C.--January 3 marked another milestone in American history, as seven LGBT people were sworn in for the new congressional session.

Among them are the first out bisexual in Congress, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, and Tammy Baldwin, who is now the first out senator in the nationís history.

The election of Rep. Mark Pocan of Wisonsin made his district the first in the country to elect two LGBT people to Congress in a row; he succeeded Tammy Baldwin in her former House seat.

Rep. Mark Takano becomes the first LGBT person of color to serve in Congress. A Harvard-educated former schoolteacher, he represents California.

New York sent its first out gay man to the Capitol in the person of Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, a former Clinton advisor. While his opponent in the election, Republican Nan Hayworth, has a gay son and was a strong supporter of LGBT rights, she was also supported by the Tea Party and wanted to reduce Medicare.

In addition, two other gay male representatives returned to take their oaths for a second time: Jared Polis of Colorado and David Cicilline of Rhode Island.

The biggest news, however, might be the first out senator, Tammy Baldwin. She defeated former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson in November, in a race that days before the election looked like it would go to her opponent. For her trailblazing election, LGBT magazine the Advocate declared her the Person of the Year for 2012, running an interview with her in the January 4 issue.

ďAt every glass ceiling Iíve broken, Iíve hoped that thatís the message that goes out so loudly and clearly,Ē she said in the interview, ďthat we donít have to limit our aspirations in this society anymore.Ē

In a state where virtually the entire electorate knows she is gay, Baldwin ran a campaign focused on issues.

Missing for the first time in 32 years is Barney Frank of Massachusetts, who announced that he would not seek reelection last year.

However, after first ruling it out, he has since asked Gov. Deval Patrick to appoint him to Sen. John Kerryís seat if Kerry is confirmed as secretary of state. President Barack Obama nominated Kerry in December to replace Hillary Clinton, who will stay in the role until her successor is confirmed for the office.

Frank said on MSNBC last week that he is only seeking the interim appointment, and will not run in the special election for the seat expected to take place next summer. Patrick said he wonít name an interim senator until Kerry officially resigns.




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