Eight LGBT candidates are running for
Congress – a new record – including the nation's first Senate
Wisconsin Rep. Tammy Baldwin, a
Democrat, and former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson are competing
to replace retiring Wisconsin Senator Herb Kohl.
According to a poll released last week,
Baldwin has a 4 point lead, 47 to 43 percent. Two weeks ago,
Thompson held a slim 1 point lead.
Mark Pocan, a small business owner and
a Wisconsin state representative, is running to fill the 2nd
Congressional seat being vacated by Baldwin. His Republican
challenger, Chad Lee, ran an unsuccessful bid against Baldwin in
2010. Pocan, 48, married his husband, Phil, in Canada in 2006.
In Massachusetts, Richard Tisei is
campaigning to become the House's first openly gay Republican member.
Tisei has an unlikely ally in his corner: House Speaker John
Boehner, an ardent opponent of gay rights. The 50-year-old realtor
is challenging eight-term Congressman John Tierney, a Democrat.
“The fact that I'm gay hasn't really
come up,” Tisei recently
told the AP. “In Massachusetts, it's harder to be a Republican
than it is to be a gay candidate.”
Kyrsten Sinema is looking to make
history as the first openly bisexual member of Congress. The
36-year-old Democrat is competing against Republican Vernon Parker to
represent Arizona's newly created 9th District, which
includes portions of southern Phoenix, Tempe and Scottsdale. She is
a former member of both chambers of the Arizona legislature.
Mark Takano is vying to become the
first openly gay Asian-American in Congress. He faces Riverside
County Supervisor John Tavaglione, a Republican, in a run for the new
seat in California's 41st Congressional District, which
includes the Inland Empire, a region located east of Los Angeles.
Takano says times have changed since he
ran for Congress in 1992. That year, his opponent handed out hot
pink campaign fliers with Takano's picture.
“People in America look forward,”
Takano said. “It's part of our evolution as a country. You know,
it's always been a story of more and more equality.”
In New York, Sean Patrick Maloney, a
former adviser to President Bill Clinton, is running to replace
incumbent Nan Hayworth, a moderate Republican with a record of
supporting gay rights. Over the weekend, New York Governor Andrew
Cuomo endorsed Maloney. Maloney and his partner of 20 years, Randy
Florke, are raising three children.
Two openly gay House members, David
Cicilline of Rhode Island and Jared Polis of Colorado, are expected
to return next year.
Chuck Wolfe of the Gay & Lesbian
Victory Fund, a group which supports gay candidates, said attacks
based on sexual orientation have become less common.
“I think the people who used to use
sexual orientation as a wedge have learned that it backfires,”
Wolfe said. “And the voters want to hear more about issues than
they want to hear somebody attacking somebody about sexual