Senator Tammy Baldwin debates with her opponent, Tommy Thomspon.
Image courtesy of Wispolitics.com via Flikr.
By Lindsey Addawoo
What marked the re-election of an unprecedented US President also marked a different kind of precedence last Tuesday night when Democrat Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay senator-elect. Baldwin had been actively involved in the Democratic party and campaigning for the Wisconsin senate for quite some time, and finally won. Ironically, the state of Wisconsin is Republican and former nominee for Vice President Paul Ryan’s home state.
In other words, after losing both the US Senate and Presidential race, Republicans are not happy.
What makes this win all the sweeter is the defeat of Baldwin’s opponent, Tommy Thompson, a former Wisconsin governor and Republican presidential contender, popular both statewide and nationally.
But perhaps what is most remarkable is the lack of emphasis in Baldwin’s campaign about her sexual orientation.
“That’s not why she won,” says Baldwin’s close friend Linda Willsey in an interview with NPR. [Her sexuality] wasn’t even an issue in this race.”
As it should be, Baldwin won on her policies.
“Middle-class tax-cuts, medicare, creating jobs, and fixing the economy” were among her top priorities, allowing her to win primarily on the “same issues as President Obama [did] in Wisconsin”, says NPR.
Yet this election comes seven years after the majority of Wisconsinites voted for a constitutional amendment making marriage a union between one man and one woman. Thus, whether Baldwin addressed LGBT issues or not during her campaign, it seems as though a victory for acceptance and progress has been made in Wisconsin.
Baldwin is not only the country’s first openly gay Senator, but also Wisconsin’s first female senator.
“I am aware that I will have the honor of being Wisconsin’s first woman senator. And I am well aware that I will be the first openly gay member. But I didn’t run to make history. I ran to make a difference,” said an optimistic Baldwin in her victory speech according to ABC news.
Another historic moment that occurred last Tuesday was for Democrat Tammy Duckworth, who was elected to the US Representative for Illinois’ 8th congressional district. As a former Iraq War veteran, and one of the only female Blackhawk helicopter pilots, Duckworth paid a high price for her duties and homage to her country.
In 2004, Duckworth’s helicopter was hit by a grenade, exploding on her lap and dismembering one of her legs, “crushing the other, and tearing [her] right arm apart” describes Duckworth at the Democratic National Convention.
Duckworth easily becomes the first amputee elected to the district, defeating Tea Party Republican candidate Joe Welsh.
For Duckworth, she is also the first Asian-American to earn this title. The daughter of a former Vietnam war veteran, Frank Duckworth, Tammy knew the value of someone like herself getting into that position of power.
Her opponent, an avid supporter of Republican Todd Akin, was famously noted to have a “no abortion exception” rule, insisting that the “advances in science and technology” make abortion unnecessary, says The Huffington Post.
For many of Illinois’s female citizens, the decision for who should’ve won this race was not a difficult choice to make.
Both Baldwin and Duckworth make their marks in US history books and continue to inspire us all. M