Election proves successful for many queer candidates

By Natalie WismerContributing Writer

Tammy Baldwin is the first openly gay U.S. Senator. (Photo from Reuters)

On Tuesday night, as I nervously refreshed the computer screen for the twelfth time in five minutes, I felt this sudden surge of pride. Not all of the votes for the presidential election were in yet, but I felt this odd hope as I learned that so many queer individuals had achieved success in their respective elections.

Mary Gonzalez, an openly pansexual candidate, found herself elected to the Texas House of Representatives. Kyrsten Sinema, who identifies as bisexual, won the Arizona Congress Primary. Article after article seemed to boast of “milestones” for the queer community, ranging from Tammy Baldwin becoming the first openly lesbian U.S. Senator to Mark Takano making history as the first LGBTQ individual of color to join Congress.

A few queer candidates getting elected may not seem like much to the community at large, but, as a member of the queer community, it means a lot to me and so many of my community. We live in a nation built upon the backs of our forefathers, a group of men that knew they must break away from imperial control so they could have a fair government in which their needs were represented. Over the years, as the country became more diverse and the essence of this nation began to change, there have been a myriad of struggles for representation, struggles similar to those of our forefathers. We look back on history and observe the efforts of women to obtain suffrage and representation, the labor that it took for the Civil Rights Movement to occur, the heart-wrenching writings of Native Americans geared to convince this nation that they too had rights and deserved to have those rights respected. Today, we watch queer Americans follow in these huge footsteps as they continue to work towards achieving equality. These efforts and trials are what make it so uplifting when I see headlines discussing queer candidates having political success.

These candidates represent so much to our community, ranging from embodying our pride to giving us hope. Most importantly, in my personal opinion, they represent progress. This week individuals also took to the polls to vote on Maine’s Question 1, Maryland’s Question 6, and Minnesota’s Amendment 1; the voting on issues pertaining to same-sex marriage. Maryland’s Question 6 allowed voters to decide if they wanted to approve a state law to legalize same sex marriage: voters decided to legalize. Minnesota’s voters were given the opportunity to change their constitution and prohibit same-sex marriage: they decided not to prohibit it. In Maine’s Question 1, voters were afforded the opportunity to reverse a 2009 referendum and legalize gay marriage: they voted to legalize. These votes signify a new-age, a changing of hearts and minds across this country.

Globally, we see a similar change, Spain’s highest court just upheld that same-sex marriage is legal and France’s cabinet just approved a draft bill for legalizing same-sex marriage. Countries like Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Iceland and many others that have same-sex marriage give us hope. They give us something to work towards and the knowledge that, globally, we are getting there; the knowledge that this quest for equality is not all for not.

Although our community is not experiencing complete equality and still has so much more to work towards, the progress made recently should not be ignored. Times are changing, we have come a long way from ad campaigns like “Boys Beware,” our sexual orientations are no longer illegal in the United States, members of our community are able to be open as they do extraordinary things, like joining Congress or being elected to the Senate. These instances, these exceptional examples of progress, do not delude me into thinking that we no longer must struggle to earn equality, rather they motivate me. They tell me that we are making progress that things are going to keep changing, that we will reach equality.

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Author: Jennifer Kiebach

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