Wisconsin Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay person elected to the House in 1998 (Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank came out after serving five years). Baldwin is also the first female representative elected from Wisconsin.

Over her ten years of service, Baldwin's popularity in conservative Wisconsin has only grown – she bested her Republican rival, Dave Magnum, by an unheard of 26 points in 2006.

In 2009, provided she returns to Congress, she and Frank will be joined by Colorado's Jared Polis, the first openly gay man to be elected to the House.

As we approach an election where gay marriage is threatened in California, OUTTAKEonline.com CEO Charlotte Robinson asked Baldwin about the state of gay marriage and other gay things related to Congress.

Baldwin said she has encountered little discrimination while serving in Congress – “Generally, I have had a very warm reception [in Congress]” – but does discuss an incident that occurred to her partner Lauren Azar: “She was gathered with a number of other Congressional spouses and someone turned to her and said, 'Whose spouse are you?' and she said, 'Oh, Tammy Baldwin,' and the person just became so flustered and couldn't sputter out a word and kind of left in distress.”

She does recognize that as a federal employee her female partner is not given equal access to benefits heterosexual spouses enjoy. “My partner cannot secure the benefits that my heterosexual married colleagues can in terms of health care, in terms of pension benefits, etc. From that perspective, legal discrimination exists,” she said.

Discussing gay marriage, the Congresswoman said she has hope in the next generation of Americans. “I feel so confident that we're going to see so many changes as this generation grows older and becomes the leadership of this nation ... The younger generation gets it, they get it on this issue [gay marriage] and on a number of other issues.”

Listen to the entire audio interview at OUTTAKEOnline.com.