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Tammy Baldwin Wins a Seat in the Wisconsin Assembly

Tammy Baldwin
Tammy Baldwin

In 1992, Tammy Baldwin, a strong progressive, ran for a seat in the Wisconsin Assembly, becoming one of six out LGBTQ+ officials to win that year. She won her third re-election in 1996 with 71 percent of the vote. During her campaigns, she often cited anthropologist Margaret Mead saying, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

In 1998, Baldwin was elected to Congress as Wisconsin’s first woman and first out LGBTQ+ representative. A hard worker, Baldwin authored an amendment to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that allowed young people to stay on their parents’ health insurance plans until the age of 26, an important element of Obamacare that became law in 2010. 

Healthcare was one reason Baldwin ran for office, having lacked health insurance as a child and "battling a serious illness, feeling that no family should have to go through what ours did." Baldwin says her two passions are “equality and health care for all,” something she grappled with when the HIV/AIDS crisis hit Dane County.  

In 2012, Baldwin made American history when she became the first out LGBTQ+ person elected to the U.S. Senate, with strong bundling and campaign support from LGBTQ+ Victory Fund. Baldwin was named to the Senate Democratic leadership after the 2016 elections.

“I often describe how, in the early days of meeting with our elected officials, we were more of a support group,” Baldwin says. “Today it’s a professional networking organization that is helping one another to be more effective and successful in fighting discrimination and injustice and forming broad coalitions with others doing the same on behalf of other communities. Victory Fund has made all of that possible.”

Glen Maxey Wins First Full Term in Texas House

Rep. Glen Maxey is sworn in by Gov. Ann Richards. Courtesy Alan Pogue, Texas Center for Documentary Photography
Rep. Glen Maxey is sworn in by Gov. Ann Richards. Courtesy Alan Pogue, Texas Center for Documentary Photography

Glen Maxey had been the chief legislative aide to a Democratic Texas state senator (where he stopped a push to quarantine people with AIDS) and the head of the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby before he was elected to the state House from Austin in 1991. LGBTQ+ Victory Fund endorsed his bid for a full term in the 1992 election, which he won. Maxey was elected – more times and served until 2003. 

“I went from being the lead state lobbyist of the LGBT community to being a state legislator overnight. I suddenly realized that I had a complex job ahead of me. I was now responsible to constituents who expected me to deal with their issues: education, jobs, public safety,” says Maxey. 

“But I was the ‘only’ public face for the LGBT community in public office, too. And while representing Austin, I was surrounded by colleagues from decidedly different parts of a very conservative state. So the only thing you can do at that juncture is stand tall, outwork them all, and most importantly, know your stuff. From being ostracized when I arrived, six terms later, I retired with a record and reputation of passing more legislation per session than any other member. And being an outspoken advocate and leader on issues of concern to most Texans, my ability to get assistance from others to sideline homophobic and anti-gay measures was achieved,” says Maxey of his twelve years in office. 

Victory Fund Supports First Congressional Candidates

Congressman Gerry Studds. Courtesy of Massachusetts Historical Society

Before the 1990s, opportunities to elect out representatives to Congress were few and far between. By the time of LGBTQ+ Victory Fund’s founding in 1991, only three out gay representatives had served – all of whom were men who’d come out after being elected. 

In 1991, LGBTQ+ Victory Fund endorsed San Mateo County Supervisor Tom Nolan to run for an open seat in California’s 12th District the following year. In a press release announcing the endorsement, LGBTQ+ Victory Fund Board Co-Chair Lynn Greer cited Nolan’s “ability to gather over 116,000 votes” in San Mateo County. Ultimately, Nolan lost the crowded primary. 

LGBTQ+ Victory Fund also endorsed its first incumbent member of Congress for the 1992 elections, Democrat Gerry Studds of Massachusetts, who came out in 1983 during the investigation over his “consensual” relationship with a 17 year old Congressional page in the 1970s. Despite the controversy, Studds had won ten elections before his LGBTQ+ Victory Fund endorsement in 1992. He retired from Congress in 1997.  

Victory's Presidential Appointments Initiative Founded

Former HUD Assistant Secretary Roberta Achtenberg with Mary Morgan and Hilary Rosen. Courtesy of Edgar B. Anderson
Former HUD Assistant Secretary Roberta Achtenberg with Mary Morgan and Hilary Rosen. Courtesy of Edgar B. Anderson

In 1992, the Presidential Appointments Initiative, spearheaded by LGBTQ+ Victory Fund founder and Bill Clinton advisor David Mixner, aimed to get out gay people appointed at all levels of the new Clinton administration. 

“Bill Clinton’s message during the campaign was ‘I have a vision of America and you are a part of it’ and we took that to heart,” said LGBTQ+ Victory Fund founder Hilary Rosen. 

Mixner took himself out of consideration for an appointment and helped identify several qualified people who were ready to take the next step. The list included San Francisco Supervisor Roberta Achtenberg; intellectual properties expert Bruce Lehman (appointed Assistance Secretary of Commerce and later Commissioner of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office); Hormel food heir Jim Hormel (who received a recess appointment in 1999 to serve as ambassador to Luxembourg); and Fred Hochberg, CEO of a successful direct marketing corporation (in 1998 appointed by Clinton as deputy administrator at the Small Business Administration, and in 2009, appointed chair of the Export-Import Bank by President Obama).

William Waybourn with future Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning

“We sent invitations to over a thousand individuals with different levels of expertise, copied their résumés and fed them to Bob Hattoy on Clinton’s transition team. He would call late at night with ‘I need more résumés!’” recalled William Waybourn, LGBTQ+ Victory Fund’s first executive director. “We also prepped candidates about interview questions and provided staff and volunteers to the transition team to ensure LGBT individuals were included in the discussion. By the time Clinton was sworn in, close to 300 LGBT applicants were signed up for appointments.”

“There’s been a huge number of LGBT appointments over the years,” said Rosen. “It’s really more about empowerment now, to take our place at the most senior levels of the progressive movement and at the table; to be a qualified and respected minority population in this country, one that people want to see represented with our own moral authority and unique perspective.” 

Presidential candidate Bill Clinton at a fundraiser with David Mixner. Courtesy of Karen Ocamb

LGBTQ+ Victory Fund Endorsed Candidates in 1992

LGBTQ+ Victory Fund endorsed 11 candidates in 1992.


Garry Studds (D), U.S. House of Representatives, Massachusetts

Gail Shibley (D), State House, Oregon

Glen Maxey (D), State House, Texas

Tammy Baldwin (D), State Assembly, Wisconsin


Tom Nolan (D), U.S. House of Representatives, California

Jerry Birdwell (D), Dallas Circuit Court, Texas

Cleve Jones (D), San Francisco Board of Supervisors, California

Jerry Keene (R), State House, Oregon

Jerry Neal (R), State House, Ohio.

Jim Haas (D), Bay Area Rapid Transit Board, California

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