We’re Here, We’re Queer, You’re Probably Used to It

On the way out of Wisconsin, I filed this story about a history-making campaign that’s hardly being talked about that way. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, the first out lesbian elected to the House (in 1998), is the Democrats’ candidate against former Gov. Tommy Thompson. Republicans were hoping that Thompson would lock down this seat for them, freeing up cash for other takeovers in states like Ohio. Baldwin, bolstered by labor unions and by careful gay donors, built a lead over Thompson. Wisconsinites, who are early voting as we speak, have not ruled out Baldwin. Frankly, people are surprised.

Baldwin’s seat will likely be taken over by Mark Pocan, who’s openly gay and married. Over in Massachusetts, the GOP’s increasingly hopeful that the openly gay Richard Tisei will defeat Rep. John Tierney, whose extended family is oddly committed to creating scandals for him. But Tisei wouldn’t be the first out gay to serve in the GOP caucus. The first was Rep. Steve Gunderson – of western Wisconsin. But a headline like “first gay senator elected” will, if it happens, be bigger than any previous breakthrough in the field.