2010s

2012

Share This Year
View All Decades

Tammy Baldwin Elected to the U.S. Senate

Baldwin on election night in 2012.
Baldwin on election night in 2012.

Having spent 14 years in the U.S. House and having been a candidate in multiple Wisconsin elections spanning a political career that dated to the early 1980s, Tammy Baldwin was sure to perform well in the primary election.  But it would take intense preparation, hard work, guts and a lot of faith on the part of Baldwin’s supporters to send her to Washington as the first out LGBTQ senator.  

Indeed, campaigns and outside groups seeking to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Herb Kohl of Wisconsin spent more than $71,000,000 during the 2012 election cycle. Beyond the Senate race, Wisconsin was a battleground for national politics in 2012, with President Barack Obama seeking his second term. 

Baldwin tapped into her existing donor networks and relied on boosters like EMILY’s List, Planned Parenthood and LGBTQ Victory Fund to “out-raise” Republican Tommy Thompson by 150 percent. For his part, Thompson was forced to spend more money earlier in the year because of a competitive GOP primary, while Baldwin was able to effectively clear the field with significant early fundraising. On November 7, Baldwin and Obama both won in Wisconsin. 

At her victory party – after acknowledging the barriers she’d broken as the first LGBTQ candidate elected to the Senate and the first woman to represent Wisconsin in the upper chamber – Baldwin pivoted back to her true motivation for pursuing public service: “I didn’t run to make history. I ran to make a difference.” 

Four LGBTQ Candidates Elected to Congress

Former LGBTQ Victory Fund Chair Steve Elmendorf with Representatives-elect Mark Pocan, Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Takano at the 2012 International LGBTQ Leaders Conference in Long Beach, California.
Former LGBTQ Victory Fund Chair Steve Elmendorf with Representatives-elect Mark Pocan, Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Takano at the 2012 International LGBTQ Leaders Conference in Long Beach, California.

The first out bisexual candidate, the first gay man of color, the first LGBTQ candidate to succeed another LGBTQ candidate and New York’s first out LGBTQ representative were all elected to the United States Congress in 2012. 

Arizona trailblazer Kyrsten Sinema was victorious in her bid to represent Arizona’s newly created 9th District in Congress, which was considered a “toss-up” district at the time, favoring neither party. Sinema had previously represented the Phoenix area in both the Arizona state House and state Senate. 

Mark Takano—a longtime English teacher who had once served on the Riverside Community College Board–set his sights on the recently redrawn 41st District in California, which conducts multi-party “jungle” primaries where the top-two candidates advance to the November election. Takano placed second in the June primary and won the general election with 58 percent of the vote. Takano, whose grandparents immigrated to the U.S. from Japan, made history as the first LGBTQ member of Congress who was a person of color. 

Mark Pocan not only succeeded Tammy Baldwin in representing Wisconsin’s 78th District in the state assembly, he then succeeded her in Congress in 2012. Meanwhile in New York, longtime politico Sean Patrick Maloney was elected to represent the Hudson Valley in Congress, becoming his state’s first out gay representative in Washington. Pocan and Maloney became two of the first married gay men in Congress. 

First LGBTQ State House Speakers Take the Gavel

Courtesy of Speaker Mark Ferrandino
Courtesy of Speaker Mark Ferrandino

Despite the federal government’s overwhelming reach, state legislatures and officials often have more influence on the daily lives of LGBTQ Americans—for better or worse. Thankfully, LGBTQ elected officials can transform state policy on LGBTQ equality, as demonstrated by Tina Kotek and Mark Ferrandino, who were the first two LGBTQ leaders elected as state house speakers. 

Speaker Tina Kotek looks on as Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber signs House Bill 2800—legislation Kotek sponsored to encourage state schools to serve locally grown food. Courtesy of Oregon Department of Transportation

Tina Kotek 

Tina Kotek made history in 2012 when colleagues elected her speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives, the first out lesbian in the nation to lead a state legislative body.

“We all look for people out there who look like us,” Kotek told the Associated Press November 15, 2012. “I have had emails and text messages from people who are very excited,” she added. “I think any time you have a ‘first,’ it’s an important thing for the community.”

Kotek was first elected to represent her largely liberal district in 2006, winning re-election by increasingly higher margins. In 2010, she won with almost 81 percent of the vote, prompting the House Democratic Caucus to elect her as Democratic whip. 

Mark Ferrandino

Mark Ferrandino became the first openly gay man to serve in the Colorado House of Representatives in 2007. He was elected Speaker in 2012. For three years Ferrandino and openly gay state senator Pat Steadman co-sponsored and pushed colleagues to support a civil unions bill, which finally passed in 2013. Governor John Hickenlooper signed the bill in March 2013 to cheers and jubilation.

“This legislation won’t change my relationship with Greg [Wertsch], but it will provide the needed protections for our precious [fourteen-month-old foster] daughter, Lila,” said Farrandino, the Huffington Post reported January 3, 2013. “We’re not asking for tolerance. You can have your beliefs. We’re asking to be treated as equal under the law.”

LGBTQ State Legislative Candidates Break Barriers in 2012 Elections

Rep.-elect Mary Gonzalez on election night in 2012.
Rep.-elect Mary Gonzalez on election night in 2012.

The 2012 elections saw a swell in the number of out LGBTQ state lawmakers, with seven states gaining their first or only such lawmaker that year. Florida, New Mexico, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas and West Virginia all elected LGBTQ legislators in 2012, while other states such as Colorado, California and New York grew their LGBTQ membership. In total, Victory Fund supported 104 state legislative candidates in 2012. 

In Pennsylvania, gay civil rights lawyer Brian Sims made headlines as the first out LGBTQ person elected to the General Assembly defeating a 28-year incumbent to represent the 182nd State House District. He won by 233 votes.

Stephen Skinner became the first out gay candidate elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates in 2012.

In the Dakotas, Joshua Boschee became the first out LGBTQ candidate elected to the North Dakota House, while Angie Buhl became South Dakota’s first out lawmaker after she came out as bisexual. 

Mary Gonzalez made history as the first out pansexual elected official in the U.S. when she won her seat representing El Paso in the Texas House and restored LGBTQ representation there for the first time in a decade. 

Elsewhere in the country, Stephen Skinner, Jacob Candelaria and David Richardson made history as the first out lawmakers in West Virginia, New Mexico and Florida, respectively. 

Gay Republican Runs for President

Karger at a rally in Iowa in 2011. Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons
Karger at a rally in Iowa in 2011. Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

Officially announcing his candidacy on March 23, 2011, gay Republican activist Fred Karger brought LGBTQ issues to the national stage inside an increasingly hostile party. Karger’s long-shot bid outperformed the expectations of some, pushing the frequent question “Fred who?” as a means of spreading the word about his presence in the race. While Karger never made it onto a televised debate stage, his name appeared on the ballot in seven states and territories. 

LGBTQ Victory Fund Endorsed Candidates in 2012

LGBTQ Victory Fund endorsed 181 candidates in 2012.

Wins

Joe Saunders, State House of Representatives, Florida

Kevin  Beckner, County Commission, Florida

Patty Sheehan, County Commission, Florida

Stephen Smith, Florida Keys Mosquito Control, Board of Commisioners, Florida

Karla Drenner, State House of Representatives, Georgia

Keisha Sean Waites, State House of Representatives, Georgia

Ken Britt, State House of Representatives, Georgia

Rashad  Taylor, State House of Representatives, Georgia

Simone Bell, State House of Representatives, Georgia

Heather Giugni, State House of Representatives, Hawaii

Nate Murphy, State House of Representatives, Idaho

Alex Arroyo, State House of Representatives, Illinois

Andrea Schleifer, Circuit Court Judge, Illinois

Debra Shore, Water Reclamation District Board, Illinois

Deb Mell, State House of Representatives, Illinois

Kelly Cassidy, State House of Representatives, Illinois

John Dalton, Circuit Court Judge, Illinois

Mary Susan Trew, Circuit Court Judge, Illinois

Michael Forti, Circuit Court Judge, Illinois

Sam Yingling, State House of Representatives, Illinois

Carl Sciortino, State House of Representatives, Massachusetts

Denise Andrews, State House of Representatives, Massachusetts

Don Bourque, State House of Representatives, Massachusetts

Kate Hogan, State House of Representatives, Massachusetts

Richard Tisei, U.S. House of Representatives, Massachusetts

Sarah Peake, State House of Representatives, Massachusetts

Tim Schofield, State Senate, Massachusetts

Tim Coco, State Senate, Massachusetts

David Lublin, City Council, Maryland

Andrew McLean, State House of Representatives, Maine

Justin Chenette, State House of Representatives, Maine

Matt Moonen, State House of Representatives, Maine

Terry Morrison, State House of Representatives, Maine

Brian McGrain, County Commission, Michigan

Carol Kuhnke, Washtenaw County Circuit Court, Michigan

Craig Covey, County Commission, Michigan

Ken Ross, Circuit Court Judge, Michigan

Kevin Howley, County Executive, Michigan

Susan  Allen, State House of Representatives, Minnesota

Susan  Allen, State House of Representatives, Minnesota

Scott Dibble, State Senate, Minnesota

Tom Degree, State House of Representatives, Minnesota

Jeanette Oxford, State Senate, Missouri

Michael Wayne Evans, City Council, Missouri

Mike Colona, State House of Representatives, Missouri

Sarah Gillooly, State House of Representatives, Missouri

Bryce Bennett, State House of Representatives, Montana

Christine Kaufmann, State Senate, Montana

Deb Butler, State Senate, North Carolina

Marcus Brandon, State House of Representatives, North Carolina

Ross Bulla, State Senate, North Carolina

Susan Wilson, State House of Representatives, North Carolina

John Strand, School Board, North Dakota

Joshua  Boschee, State House of Representatives, North Dakota

Aaron Gill, State House of Representatives, New Hampshire

Chris Pappas, Executive Council, New Hampshire

David Pierce, State Senate, New Hampshire

Len Resto, City Council, New Jersey

Jacob Candelaria , State Senate, New Mexico

Mary Ellen Broderick, State House of Representatives, New Mexico

Andrew Martin, State House of Representatives, Nevada

David Parks, State Senate, Nevada

James  Healey , State House of Representatives, Nevada

Brad Hoylman, State Senate, New York

Brian Haak, City Council, New York

Danny O'Donnell, State House of Representatives, New York

Harry Bronson, State House of Representatives, New York

Jeffrey Friedman, State House of Representatives, New York

Matthew Titone, State House of Representatives, New York

Robin Andrews, State Senate, New York

Sean Maloney, U.S. House of Representatives, New York

James Helmink, State House of Representatives, , Ohio

Nickie Antonio, State House of Representatives, Ohio

Sandra Kurt, City Council, Ohio

Terry Brown, County Recorder, Ohio

Tim Brown, State House of Representatives, Ohio

Al McAffrey, State Senate, Oklahoma

Kay  Floyd, State House of Representatives, Oklahoma

Tom Kovach, City Council, Oklahoma

Claudia Kyle, State House of Representatives, Oregon

Jon Gustafson, City Council, Oregon

Kate Brown, Secretary of State, Oregon

Nena Cook, State Supreme Court, Oregon

Tina Kotek, State House of Representatives, Oregon

Virginia Linder, State Supreme Court, Oregon

Brian Sims, State House of Representatives, Pennsylvania

Chris Dietz, State House of Representatives, Pennsylvania

David  Cicilline , U.S. House of Representatives, Rhode Island

Deb  Ruggiero, State House of Representatives, Rhode Island

Donna Nesselbush, State Senate, Rhode Island

Frank Ferri, State House of Representatives, Rhode Island

Gordon Fox, State House of Representatives, Rhode Island

Laura Pisaturo, State Senate, Rhode Island

Angie Buhl, State Senate, South Dakota

Ann Johnson, State House of Representatives, Texas

Lupe Valdez, Sherriff, Texas

Mary Gonzalez, State House of Representatives, Texas

Rosemary Lehmberg, District Attorney, Texas

Scott Sherman, City Council, Texas

Steve  Kirkland , Civil Judge, Texas

Melvin Nimer, County Council, Utah

Joel McDonald, School Board, Virginia

Lawrence  Webb, City Council, Virginia

Paul Smedberg, City Council, Virginia

Sean Holihan, City Council, Virginia

Debbie Ingram, State Senate, Vermont

Herb Russell, State House of Representatives, Vermont

Joanna Cole, Justice of the Peace, Vermont

Matt Trieber, State House of Representatives, Vermont

Suzi Wizowaty, State House of Representatives, Vermont

Dave Upthegrove, State House of Representatives, Washington

Elizabeth Berns, Superior Court, Washington

Jamie Pederson, State House of Representatives, Washington

Jim Moeller, State House of Representatives, Washington

Laurie Jinkins, State House of Representatives, Washington

Marko Liias, State House of Representatives, Washington

Shelly Crocker, State House of Representatives, Washington

Bill  Buresh, County Supervisor, Wisconsin

Mark Pocan, U.S. House of Representatives, Wisconsin

Tammy Baldwin, U.S. Senate, Wisconsin

Stephen Skinner, State House of Representatives, West Virginia

Cathy Connolly, State House of Representatives, Wyoming

Jocasta Zamarippa, State House of Representatives, Wisconsin

Losses

Dustin Cox, State House of Representatives, Arizona

Donald Rumer-Rivera, Maricopa Special Healthcare District Board of Directors, Arizona

Ken Cheuvront, State Senate, Arizona

Kyrsten Sinema, U.S. House of Representatives, Arizona

Lawrence Robinson, School Board, Arizona

Abel Guillen, State Assembly, California

Cathleen Galgiani, State Senate, California

Chris Clark, City Council, California

Christina Olague, Board of Supervisors, California

Chip Yarborough, Mayor, California

Darryl Moore, City Council, California

David Campos, Board of Supervisors, California

David Roberts, Board of Supervisors, California

Gary Miller, School Board, California

George Schaefer, Superior Court, California

Greg Pettis, City Council, California

Joel Engardio, Board of Supervisors, California

John Pérez, State Assembly, California

Judy Appel, School Board, California

Linda Atkins, City Council, California

Luis  Lopez, State Assembly, California

Mark Takano, U.S. House of Representatives, California

Mark Leno, State Senate, California

Paul Marchand, City Council, California

Rebecca Kaplan, City Council, California

Ricardo Lara, State Senate, California

Richard Gordon, State Assembly, California

Sabrina Brennan, Harbor Commission, California

Steve Hansen, City Council, California

Susan  Eggman, State Assembly, California

Todd Gloria, City Council, California

Tom Ammiano, State Assembly, California

Toni Atkins, State Assembly, California

Torie Osborn, State Assembly, California

Dominick Moreno, State House of Representatives, Colorado

Jared  Polis , U.S. House of Representatives, Colorado

Jessie Ulibarri, State Senate, Colorado

Joann Ginal, State House of Representatives, Colorado

Mark Ferrandino, State House of Representatives, Colorado

Patrick Steadman, State Senate, Colorado

Paul Rosenthal, State House of Representatives, Colorado

Sue Schafer, State House of Representatives, Colorado

Chris Linn, ANC Commission, District of Columbia

Jack  Jacobson, School Board, District of Columbia

Marc  Morgan, ANC Commission, District of Columbia

Matt Raymond, ANC Commission, District of Columbia

Martin Espinoza, ANC Commission, District of Columbia

Tim Day, City Council, District of Columbia

Andy Staton, State Senate, Delavare

Marie Mayor, State House of Representatives, Delavare

Mitch Crane, Insurance Commissioner, Delavare

Patrick Gossett, City Council, Delavare

Darrin P.  Gayles, Circuit Court Judge, Florida

Dave Richardson, State House of Representatives, Florida

Gina Duncan, County Commission, Florida

Ian  Whitney, State House of Representatives, Florida

Keep in Touch

Stay up-to-date on the latest in LGBTQ representation and
Victory Institute's work increase the number of LGBTQ public leaders.
join our movement