Dale McCormick, Maine, 1990
Born January 17, 1947
1. 2 million constituents
Elected to State Senate November 1990
Re-elected 1992, 1994
Elected State Treasurer December 1996
Re-elected 1998, 2000, 2002
Essay by Dale McCormick for Out and Elected in the USA
I grew up thinking I was different and would never marry or have kids. For me the thought of having a child had a 40-year gestation period. When I realized I was a lesbian, I was 19. It was 1966 and a time and culture when no one questioned the myths about gays and children. In fact I had internalized this prejudice to the point that whenever I was near a child I felt our interaction was being watched carefully by everyone around us.
As the gay and lesbian community pushed for equality, these stereotypes were questioned and debunked. My self-esteem began to rise. Gradually, I reconsidered my assumption that I would always have a childless relationship (we didn't dare use the word family back then). Now that our family has expanded to include Paley, life is much more full and poignant. Almost everything she does or says brings tears to my eyes with its beauty, freshness, or profundity.
My partner Betsy was pregnant with Paley during my second term as a Maine State Senator. One day one of the more conservative senators pointed to Betsy and asked, "Is that the mother of Dale McCormick's child?" This and my election as an open lesbian in a conservative rural district started the rumor that there was nothing I couldn't do.
When I was running for Congress in 1996, I and my primary opponent addressed the State Democratic Convention. At the end of his speech he introduced his wife and kids and at the end of mine, Betsy and Paley joined me at the podium. We stood together for several minutes while everyone cheered. I didn't realize at the time how this moment was going to be seen by others. The next morning a family photo of all three of us was featured on the front page of the local paper – in color above the fold. It was a wonderful affirmation of gay and lesbian families. You never know how big little things may become.
Several years ago a political colleague in D.C. told me that I had courage for going ahead and having a family even though it might jeopardize my political career. It wasn't courage. It was a choice, and one that I've never regretted.