(CNSNews.com) – Voters in Wisconsin sent Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) to the U.S. Senate on Tuesday– making her the first open lesbian to be elected to the upper chamber.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) activists say the victory was the "crown jewel" in a night of victories that voters handed homosexuals.
“Tonight we have won a huge victory for Wisconsin’s middle class,” Baldwin told supporters in Madison, declaring victory. “The people's voice was heard tonight, Wisconsin, and come January, your voice will be heard in the United States Senate.”
Baldwin was the first openly homosexual candidate to win election to the U.S. Congress, when voters sent her to the House in 1998. The seven-term congresswoman will replace retiring liberal Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.)
She defeated former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson, who served as secretary of Health and Human Services for President George W. Bush, in a race which saw in excess of $30 million from outside groups being dumped into the Badger State.
LGBT groups crowed about the victory – which came at the same time voters in Maine and Maryland approved initiatives in favor of same-sex marriage – and voters in Minnesota voted down an effort to define marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman.
“Tonight, we achieved historic victories in the fight for LGBT equality,” HRC President Chad Griffin said Tuesday night.
“We secured our first-ever electoral victories for marriage in Maine, Maryland, and Minnesota; Tammy Baldwin is headed to the U.S. Senate; and President Obama securing a second term. We can take time to celebrate these victories, but tomorrow we have to get right back to the work of telling our stories, changing hearts and minds, and improving conditions for every single LGBT American.”
Chuck Wolfe, president of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund said Tuesday will “go down in history.”
“Tonight Tammy shattered a glass ceiling that has existed for more than two centuries, and we could not be more thrilled,” Wolfe said.
Meanwhile, Wisconsin state Rep Mark Pocan, who is also an open homosexual, will replace Baldwin in the U.S House, and former Clinton White House staffer Sean Maloney -- an openly homosexual man -- beat Republican Rep. Nan Hayworth (R-N.Y.) to represent New York’s 18th congressional district.