“When the history books are written, 2012 will be remembered as the year when LGBT Americans won decisively at the ballot box,” said HRC President Chad Griffin, in a statement issued on the morning of Nov. 7.
Indeed, in 2012 voters across the country looked past sexual orientation and gender identity in electing their representatives, and in doing so, will send a record number of LGBT candidates to Washington and their state capitols.
On Nov. 6, U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), became the first openly LGBT candidate to win election to the U.S. Senate.
“This is a historic victory not only for the people of Wisconsin, but for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans across the country who have finally gained an authentic and powerful voice in Congress’ upper chamber. … Tammy shattered a glass ceiling that has existed for more than two centuries,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund.
Griffin called Baldwin “a trailblazer” and “a role model for LGBT youth and all young women across the country.”
In the U.S. House of Representatives, incumbent Reps. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.) will welcome openly gay newcomers newcomers Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and Mark Takano (D-Calif.), as well as Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), the first openly bisexual member of Congress.
As well, Takano will be the first openly-gay person of color in Congress.
All told, the 113th Congress will have a total of seven openly LGBT members, an increase from only four in the last Congress.
According to the Victory Fund, 121 LGBT candidates out of 180 endorsed by the group won on Nov. 6.
In addition, several openly gay elected officials will head up their state chambers this year. In Washington state, Sen. Ed Murray (D-Seattle) will become just the second openly LGBT person to lead a state Senate chamber after his Democratic colleagues chose him as majority leader of the Washington State Senate. (The first openly gay State Senate leader was the late Allan Spear of Minnesota.)
Murray joins Assembly Speaker John Perez in California, House Speaker Gordon D. Fox in Rhode Island and incoming House Speakers Mark Ferrandino in Colorado, and out lesbian Rep. Tina Kotek in Oregon as the only currently serving openly gay legislators to land their chambers’ top jobs.
Wolfe called this year’s election night victories, not “incremental progress,” but “a breathtaking leap forward.”
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Top left: Returning Congressmen Jared Polis (left) and David Cicilline.
Bottom left: LGBT newcomers, clockwise from top left: Sean Patrick Maloney, Mark Pocan, Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Takano.