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social sciences

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Baldwin, Tammy (b. 1962)  
page: 1  2  

The tactics failed, and Baldwin was returned to congress. She won again in 2004 with a decisive 63 percent of the vote.

In the House of Representatives, Baldwin served on the Budget and Judiciary Committees as well as the Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Sponsor Message.

Baldwin entered into a committed relationship with Lauren Azar, an environmental lawyer, in 1996 and subsequently formed a domestic partnership with her when they became available in Wisconsin.

On May 28, 2010, however, Baldwin's press secretary issued a statement announcing that the couple had ended their relationship and would terminate their domestic partnership, adding that "Neither Tammy nor Lauren will have any further public comment on this very private matter."

Throughout her political career Baldwin has worked vigorously on many issues, but she is mindful that she is doing so in the context of being a lesbian. In a 1999 interview she recalled a telephone call that she had received six years prior, on the day of her inauguration in the Wisconsin State Assembly. A young man from the northern part of the state told her that he had never heard of her before reading a story in the morning paper, but he said in a "nervous, shaky voice," "I want you to know that I feel differently about myself today."

Baldwin described the call as "very moving," adding that she understood the "symbolic importance" of her election as a glbtq person and for glbtq people. She resolved "to challenge stereotypes" and be an advocate for the whole panoply of her constituents.

"When a senior in our district says, 'That Tammy Baldwin's fighting for my Social Security,'" she commented, "everything else that I am is secondary because what I'm doing is fighting for her."

In 2012, Baldwin announced plans to run for the United States Senate, a risky move in that she was widely regarded as too liberal for her ideologically divided state. Moreover, the run would involve giving up her safe seat in the House for an uncertain future.

She swept to victory in the Democratic primary, but then had to face not only her Republican opponent Tommy Thompson, a former four-time governor and cabinet member who enjoyed considerable name recognition, but the implacable opposition of well-funded super-pacs that targeted the Wisconsin seat as an easy gain for the Republicans.

Although she was initially a distinct underdog, as the race developed, it was viewed by many pundits as a toss-up, with neither candidate establishing a durable lead. Throughout the campaign Thompson tried to portray Baldwin as an extreme liberal, while she ran proudly on her progressive record and on her support for President Obama.

In the end, Baldwin gained momentum, and she defeated Thompson by a margin of 51 to 46 percent.

After her victory Baldwin stated that she was "well aware" of the historic nature of her election to the Senate, both as the first woman elected from Wisconsin and as the first openly gay person ever elected to the Senate. But, she declared, "I didn't run to make history, I ran to make a difference." She cited helping "families struggling to find work" and "seniors worried about their retirement security" as among her priorities.

Nevertheless, her election was widely celebrated in the glbtq community, both because of her personal popularity and because of the milestone she achieved. Coming as it did on the same night that President Obama, who had earlier announced his support for marriage equality, was re-elected and marriage equality measures were passed in Maine, Maryland, and Washington, her election was interpreted as further evidence of the increasing acceptance of gay people in the United States.

Linda Rapp

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social sciences >> Overview:  Elected Officials

In the United States, glbtq candidates have achieved some significant successes at the ballot box in the last three decades, running for and winning local, state, and national elections.

social sciences >> Overview:  Gay Rights Movement, U. S.

The U.S. gay rights movement has made significant progress toward achieving equality for glbtq Americans, and in the process has become more inclusive and diverse, but much remains to be done.

social sciences >> Cicilline, David

U. S. Representative David Cicilline, who made history as the first openly gay mayor of a state capital, has a long record of public service.

social sciences >> Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) authorizes states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages or domestic partnerships or civil unions and it requires that federal bureaus and agencies recognize only opposite-sex marriages.

social sciences >> Democratic Party (United States)

The American glbtq movement for equality has largely allied itself with the Democratic Party.

social sciences >> Maloney, Sean Patrick

Long a champion of glbtq and progressive causes, Sean Patrick Maloney was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 2012 to become the first openly gay U.S. Representative from New York state.

social sciences >> Michaud, Michael H. ("Mike")

Michael H. Michaud, who has served in both houses of the Maine legislature as well as in the U.S. House of Representatives, came out publicly in 2013 during his campaign for the governorship of Maine.

social sciences >> Pocan, Mark

A former seven-term member of the Wisconsin Assembly, Mark Pocan easily won election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012.

social sciences >> Polis, Jared

Businessman and philanthropist Jared Polis became one of only three openly gay members in Congress, and the first openly gay man elected to Congress as a freshman, when he won election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2008.

social sciences >> Sinema, Kyrsten 

After serving several terms in the Arizona state legislature, Kyrsten Sinema ran successfully for the United States House of Representatives in 2012, becoming the first openly bisexual person elected to that body.

social sciences >> Takano, Mark

In 2012, Mark Takano, a Japanese American from Riverside, California, became the first openly gay person of color to be elected to the United States House of Representatives.


Bull, Chris. "Take a Seat." The Advocate (February 16, 1999): 42.

Clark, Anita. "Anti-Gay Postcard Is Denounced by Greer; The Mailer, Sent by a Virginia-based Organization, Is Aimed at Baldwin." Wisconsin State Journal (Madison) (November 2, 2002): B1.

Conniff, Ruth. "Tammy Baldwin." The Progressive 63 (January 1999): 64.

Pauken, Heidi. "The Students' Rep: Wisconsin Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin Knows How to Represent--and Turn out--Young People." The American Prospect 14 (October 2003): A22-24.

Stan, Adele. "Baldwin's New Battle." The Advocate 916 (June 8, 2004): 26-29.


    Citation Information
    Author: Rapp, Linda  
    Entry Title: Baldwin, Tammy  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2005  
    Date Last Updated November 9, 2012  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2005, glbtq, inc.  


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