Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin, 1986

Tammy Baldwin

Tammy Baldwin not only holds the distinction of being the first openly lesbian or gay (voting) person elected to the U.S. Congress as a non-incumbent, but is the first female member of Congress from Wisconsin. She is seen in this photograph in January 1999 on the eve of her swearing in for Congress.

Tammy Baldwin (D)

Born February 11, 1962

U.S. Representative, 2nd Congressional District

Madison, Wisconsin

600,000 constituents

Career Overview

Elected Dane County Board of Supervisors April 1986

Appointed to briefly fill a vacancy on the Madison City Council while on the County Board in 1986

Re-elected to the County Board 1988, 1990

Elected to State Assembly November 1992

Re-elected 1994, 1996

Elected to Congress November 1998

Re-elected 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006

 

 

Tammy Baldwin's Victory Speech, November 3, 1998


If this election was about anything, it was about standing up to the many messages of cynicism and negativity out there and reclaiming our hopefulness and our democracy. As our nation braced for record low turnout, we inspired more voters than even the most optimistic predictions.

And through our activism, commitment, and hopefulness, we also made a little history. Part of making our democracy whole is believing that it represents all of us.

During my lifetime, I have seen progress toward full inclusion for all our citizens. I can’t help thinking that when I take a seat there, our Congress will look just a little bit more like America in its rich and wonderful diversity.

I am proud to be able to represent all of you in Congress and I am proud to be the first out lesbian elected to Congress in the United States. But I am most proud to have helped so many people find their own voice in this democracy.

We did it!

We have demonstrated that “we decide what is possible” – that no one should tell us what we can and cannot achieve, what we can and cannot strive for, what we can and cannot dream, because this is America, this is a democracy, and in a democracy, WE decide what is possible.

We have shown that the people of this community are frustrated, anxious, and, yet, hopeful about one of our greatest remaining political challenges – the challenge to assure that every family and individual in this nation receives quality health care. We have shown that there is a yearning for bold leadership. We have shown that in politics, it’s OK to dream about the future we want to create.

I feel honored to have run in a Democratic primary with other candidates who ran with integrity and dignity. Patrick O’Brien, Joe Wineke and Rick Phelps are outstanding leaders and I have been honored by their support in the general election.

I have not yet had the opportunity to speak with Jo Musser this evening, but I want to commend her personally for her accessibility throughout this general election. The two of us agreed to nearly thirty joint appearances, forums, and debates over the last two months. I gained great respect for her willingness to bring this campaign to the people. I also want to acknowledge that this campaign has given me even greater respect for the men who held this seat before. I can think of no greater honor than to follow in the footsteps of Robert Kastenmeier and Scott Klug. Each has made great sacrifices to serve us. Each leaves a unique legacy that we should honor and appreciate.

As I look forward to serving in Congress, I think about the future. I have a young cousin, Jennifer. She’s almost two years old. She will graduate high school in the year 2015. She will turn fifty years old in the year 2047. She will retire in the year 2062. What will the world look like in 2062? I don’t know. None of us do. But I do know that in Congress I want to leave a legacy for Jennifer and the boys and girls of her generation. I want her to have the best public education possible from pre-school through college. I want Jennifer to have secure health care, regardless of her employment status. I want her to have equal pay for equal work, a secure job that pays a living wage, clean air, clean water, and a secure retirement. I want her to have equal opportunities, freedoms and choices to achieve as much as she can in this world. That’s a pretty simple dream. And there is a pretty simple way of achieving this dream. We must continue to work together with the same vigor and intensity that we have in this campaign.

It has been an honor to run for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. It will be an even greater privilege to serve you there.