Openly lesbian Wisconsin Representative Tammy Baldwin and her partner of nearly 15 years are splitting, Eau Claire ABC affiliate WQOW reported.

Baldwin, 48, became the first openly gay person elected to the House in 1998. She is also the first female representative elected from Wisconsin.

Baldwin and her partner Lauren Azar, a member of the Wisconsin Public Service Commission, were among the first to sign up for Wisconsin's domestic partnership registry last year. The registry offers gay and lesbian couples a handful of benefits, including hospital visitation rights. Governor Jim Doyle, a Democrat, vigorously championed the measure's passage.

The Madison Democrat issued a statement through her office Friday announcing the separation.

“Accordingly, they will also terminate their Wisconsin domestic partnership,” the announcement says. “Neither Tammy nor Lauren will have any further public comment on this very private matter.”

An avid supporter of gay rights, Baldwin has been at the forefront of securing equal benefits for the spouses of gay federal employees. Her Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act has cleared committees in both houses of Congress. Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, the chief sponsor of the bill in the Senate, said last week that he expects the Senate to vote on the measure “within weeks.”