MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Personally, I have never given a hoot about whether anyone is gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgender. Heck, I don't witness the sexual lives of other people, so why should I care about who a person does what with in terms of their bodies? It's a private preference issue performed in private.
So the election of Tammy Baldwin to the United States Senate to fill the seat vacated by Democrat Herbert Kohl, a wealthy scion of a retail magnate family, made history on Tuesday because she is not only the first openly lesbian US Senator, she will be the first openly gay US Senator (although there are reportedly at least a couple closeted LGBT senators, just recall Larry "Widestance" Craig).
Baldwin beat a Wisconsin landmark, former long-serving Governor Tommy Thompson to represent the Badger State in the senate. But her mind wasn't on breaking a barrier, it was on serving the people:
In her victory speech, Baldwin acknowledged that she makes history as both Wisconsin's first female senator and the country's first openly gay senator.
"Now, I am well aware that I will have the honor of being Wisconsin's first woman senator. And I am well aware that I will be the first openly gay member," Baldwin said to loud cheers and chants of "Tammy, Tammy!" from her supporters. "But I didn't run to make history. I ran to make a difference."
Baldwin has been a popular congresswoman representing the Madison area for years and is distinctly progressive. In a state that is run by the infamous Scott Walker, she joined Barack Obama in reviving the Wisconsin "Fighting Bob" LaFollette tradition in 2012. This occurred just a few months after the Koch Brothers' protĂ©gĂ©, Walker, was retained in office when a recall vote was defeated.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel called Baldwin's election "a milestone for gay issues," but she sees it as a milestone for advancing an agenda beneficial to the American nation:
In an election with voters focused more on their bank accounts than their bedrooms, history crept quietly forward for gays and lesbians in Wisconsin and beyond.
Tuesday night, Tammy Baldwin won her election to become the first openly gay U.S. senator, Maine and Maryland and possibly Washington became the first states to approve gay marriage by popular vote and Barack Obama won re-election after coming out in favor of gay marriage during the campaign. In the 2nd Congressional District seat now held by Baldwin, an openly gay state lawmaker was picked to succeed her.
Such strides wouldn't have seemed possible during the 1990s, the time when Baldwin's opponent Tommy Thompson served as governor of Wisconsinâ€¦.
But she did pass a milestone and so did state lawmaker Mark Pocan, the openly gay Madison Democrat chosen to fill Baldwin's open congressional seat.
If gay rights advocates were big winners Tuesday, social conservatives were equally big losers. They also suffered setbacks when previously strong GOP candidates lost U.S. Senate races in Missouri and Indiana as well as an Assembly seat in Wisconsin after controversial comments about abortion and rape that received widespread attention.
It was an unexpected advancement of equality for individuals regardless of gender preference.
That is something to remember. 2012 turned out not to be just a "defensive" election.
It resulted in something that moved the nation forward in being more inclusive â€“ and in electing people on their merits, not who they sleep with.