The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund has endorsed a record-breaking 180 openly LGBT candidates for office this election cycle, including eight running for the House and Senate. Queerty will be tracking as many of those races as we can tomorrow on Election Day, but we thought we’d shine a spotlight on seven who stand to make a significant difference in their communities, states and possibly nationwide.
Tammy Baldwin (D)
US Senate, Wisconsin
Baldwin’s run for the Senate seat vacated by Wisconsin’s Herb Kohl is one of the most closely watched nationwide. Despite strong support from the Victory Fund and President Obama, she’s currently neck-and-neck with Republican opponent Tommy Thompson, who opposes marriage equality and seeks to dismantle the Affordable Health Care Act.
While Baldwin has been happy her sexuality hasn’t been a major campaign issue, she realizes the significance of becoming the first openly gay senator in Congress: “If you are not in the room, the conversation is about you. If you are in the room, the conversation is with you,” Baldwin told The Guardian. “We never had an openly LGBT member of the US 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.”
Mark Takano (D)
US House of Representatives, California
If Takano, who is Japanese-American, wins the House seat in California’s 41st District, he’ll be the first minority gay in Congress. While building bridges between communities is always vital, it’s important to note that Takano’s sexuality hasn’t been an issue in the race. “Now my being openly gay is more of an interesting part of my background rather than a genesis for attacks,” he told New America Media. “It’s a demonstration of how far our country has come in a short time.
Sean Patrick Maloney (D)
US House of Representatives, New York
Running for the House in New York’s 18th District, the eminently photogenic Maloney has gotten some big endorsements, including ones from Gov. Andrew Cuomo and ex-prez Bill Clinton, who hired Maloney as a senior West Wing adviser. “Sean Maloney’s got a better jobs plan, he’s got a better budget plan, he’s got a better education plan, he’s got a better plan for the future,” said Clinton.
Should he win on Election Day, Maloney would become the Empire State’s first openly gay Representative.
Kyrsten Sinema (D)
US House of Representatives, Arizona
Sinema has served in both chambers of the Arizona Legislature and, if elected to represent Arizona’s 9th District tomorrow, stands to become the first out bisexual in Congress. Honored by the Sierra Club, Planned Parenthood, the Stonewall Democrats and the Arizona League of Conservation Voters, Sinema has taken strong stances on marriage equality, equal-opportunity programs and the DREAM Act. A former social worker, she says she got into politics because, “I felt like my hands were tied… The political structure, society and laws weren’t allowing me to have the space to create the self-sufficiency for my clients.”
Jared Polis (D)
US House of Representatives, Colorado
Polis, who is seeking reelection to the House from Colorado’s 2nd district, made his mark with an online greeting-card site he sold to the tune of $780 million. A member of Congress’ LGBT Equality Caucus, he has cosponsored both the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act and the Respect for Marriage Act, which would rescind the odious Defense of Marriage Act.
In addressing the Obama Administration’s refusal to defend DOMA, Polis said “I applaud the Administration for finally recognizing what my colleagues and I have long criticized: to deny people the ability to officially acknowledge their relationship and feel welcomed as partners only for being LGBT is absurd.”
Polis is one of the few politicians to be out when first elected to the House, and is the first gay parent in Congress.
Richard Tisei (R)
US House of Representatives, Massachusetts
Running for the House in Massachusetts 6th District, Tisei is something of a white elephant—though Republcian, he is openly gay, pro-choice and endorses marriage equality. Maine’s managed to score endorsements from both Republican Speaker John Boehner and the left-leaning Boston Globe. “There’s longstanding evidence of Tisei’s willingness to defy his party and even public sentiment at key points,” the Globe stated in its editorial. “
If he wins tomorrow, Tisei would become the only gay Republican in Congress and the first elected as a non-incumbent.
David Cicilline (D)
US House of Representatives, Rhode Island
Running for re-election in Rhode Island’s redrawn 1st District, Cicilline already made history when he was elected mayor of Providence as the first openly gay mayor of a U.S. capital city. He faces a tough race on Election Day against Republican challenger Brendan Doherty, whose campaign war chest is more than twice the size of Cicilline’s. Polls put Doherty several percentage points ahead, with many pointing to Cicilline’s handling of Providence’s finances as a major albatross around his neck: When he left office, the city found itself $110 million deficit.