The year began on a high note for out candidates as Annise Parker was inaugurated for her second term as Houston mayor. By the end of the year, the LGBT community would be sending its largest delegation to Congress including the first openly lesbian member of the Senate.
“There is no question that we have reached a turning point in our movement,” Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said in a phone press conference after the election.
Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., announced her candidacy for the Senate early in the year after Sen. Herb Kohl announced his retirement. Her formidable opponent in the race was former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, who served as President George Bush’s first secretary of Health and Human Services.
In April, Baldwin came to Dallas on a fundraising trip where she spoke to HRC’s DFW Federal Club.
Throughout her campaign, Baldwin never shied away from LGBT issues and told Dallas Voice during her visit that she wanted to see marriage equality in the Democratic Party platform.
In addition to Baldwin’s high-profile campaign for Senate, more openly LGBT candidates ran for the House of Representatives than ever. And despite the retirement of longest-serving out Rep. Barney Frank and elevation of Baldwin to the Senate, more out LGBT people will be serving in the House.
Openly LGBT incumbent Reps. Jared Polis, D-Colo., and David Cicilline, D-R.I., both handily won re-election.
Krysten Sinema became the first openly bisexual person elected to Congress. The Arizona Democrat will represent a suburban Phoenix district. In April, Sinema appeared at Sue Ellen’s in Dallas for a fundraiser. She won her seat with a razor thin majority that wasn’t called until days after the election.
Sean Patrick Maloney defeated a Republican incumbent to represent a suburban district north of New York City becoming that state’s first openly gay member of Congress.
California’s Mark Takano not only became his state’s first openly gay House member, but the first non-white LGBT person elected to Congress.
And Mark Pocan replaced Tammy Baldwin in the House, marking the first time a House seat passed from one LGBT person to another. And the first time people in a district could claim being represented in Congress by a gay representative and a lesbian senator.
Other gays and lesbians ran. Richard Tisei from Massachusetts was the first openly gay Republican to run for Congress since Jim Kolbe retired in 2007. Lesbian Democrat Nicole LaFavour lost her bid to unseat Idaho’s Mike Simpson.
Locally, Sheriff Lupe Valdez easily won reelection to her third term with 58 percent of the vote. “I’m blessed, I’m honored and continually grateful for the progressiveness of Dallas County,” Valdez told Dallas Voice at the Stonewall Democrats party at the Round-Up Saloon.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 28, 2012.