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.”