Wisconsin Elects Country's First Openly Gay Senator, Tammy Baldwin

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
Nov. 6 2012 9:55 PM

Wisconsin Elects Country's First Openly Gay Senator, Tammy Baldwin

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Tammy wins

Photograph by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

Wisconsinites indulged in some grotesque anti-lobbyist prejudice today and chose seven-term openly gay congresswoman Tammy Baldwin over Tommy Thompson to replace Democrat Herb Kohl in the Senate. Baldwin had a huge fundraising advantage throughout the race, and she used the money to portray Thompson, who may have been remembered fondly by some as the state's former governor, as the health care company consultant he has been for years. Thompson, for his part, blamed the lobbying on his wife’s spending habits. Women!

Baldwin is a progressive solid enough to have voted against authorizing the Iraq War and against a pro-Patriot Act resolution masquerading as pro-veteran. She wrote the part of the Affordable Care Act that lets adults stay on their parents' health care coverage until they're 26. Her sexual orientation wasn’t an issue during the campaign, but Baldwin isn't averse to talking about it. "If you are not in the room, the conversation is about you,” she told The Guardian this week. “If you are in the room, the conversation is with you. We never had an openly LGBT member of the U.S. Senate, and even though there are strong pro-equality allies who serve there, it has always been a conversation about a group of people. So this changes everything.”

Kerry Howley's work has appeared in the Paris Review, Bookforum, and the New York Times Magazine. She is currently finishing a book about consensual violence, ecstatic experience, and the body.

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