Kyrsten Sinema, a former Arizona state senator, has become the first openly bisexual lawmaker to be elected to Congress.
Sinema, a Democrat representing the Arizona’s 9th District, is an out bisexual woman and a secularist. She could hardly have been more different from her Tea Party affiliated Republican opposition in this race, Vernon Parker.
Sinema appeared to be winning following election night, but the race was too close to call and her opponent Parker refused to concede. But, with a 6,000 strong lead and increasing, Parker this week finally admitted that based on the numbers he could not manage to catch up and the AP called the race in Sinema’s favor.
“I am grateful for the honor and the opportunity to serve the people of Arizona again. My job is to represent all of the people in CD9 whether they voted for me or not. The voters have given us a clear ‘to do’ list – work to fix our economy, reduce our ballooning debt and better protect the middle class. I am eager to get to work and I intend to team up with anyone of any party who is willing to help change Congress and move our country forward.”
Sinema ran on a platform that primarily highlighted her work as a state senator, stressing her opposition to Governor Brewer’s education cuts, health care coverage cuts and more.
Sinema is a vocal proponent of the DREAM Act, has made a commitment to environmental causes like solar energy and preserving national parks, and has stressed a desire to improve care for Arizona’s senior citizens.
Despite a solid grounding on a variety of issues, her Tea Party rival Vernon Parker charged that Sinema was simply too liberal for the newly created CD9, advancing that she would not understand stay-at-home moms.
Parker even went so far as to send a letter to Arizona State University President Michael Crow to tattle on Sinema when, he claimed, he found a recording of her calling the university, horror of horrors, “a party school.”
In the letter he said, ”If Ms. Sinema has the audacity to mock students at such a prestigious university as yours, what else is she capable of? If that’s how she feels about ASU students, what does she secretly think about voters? Should she really be the person to represent ASU’s interests in DC?”
Sadly, he got little mileage out of the story.
Sinema’s campaign team was also able to capitalize on Parker’s staunch religious conservative ideals, like banning abortion even in cases of rape, and amending the U.S. constitution to ban same-sex marriage.
In this race, Sinema didn’t just have to fight Vernon Parker, however. She also had to battle against Governor Jan Brewer’s PAC which, for the first time, decided to dirty its hands and spend in excess of $23,000 to produce and send a mailing to voters in the newly created 9th Congressional District urging them against voting for Sinema.
Sinema wasn’t celebrating news of her victory though. She told ABC15 that she had work to do and so didn’t have time:
“I will celebrate later, maybe in December, but right now I am just going to focus and work on getting some things done, I’m looking forward to orientation,” said Sinema.
Sinema said her first order of business is fighting for middle class families and in doing so will working [sic] across party lines.
“I’m willing to work with anyone from any party to break through this gridlock and solve problems for families,” Sinema told ABC15. “Frankly we need a Congress that’s interested in solving problems and willing to get past the partisan ideology.”
There were several other important Election Night victories to have emerged in the past week. Here’s a couple of others that stood out:
New Hampshire Elects First Trans Lawmaker
New Hampshire voters gave a decisive victory to Stacey Laughton, the state’s first trans-identifying lawmaker.
“I believe that at this point, the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community will hopefully be inspired,” Laughton said Wednesday. “My hope is that now maybe we’ll see more people in the community running, maybe for alderman. Maybe in the next election, we’ll have a senator.”
Laughton won one of three seats in the state House of Representatives in Ward 4, joining Democrats David Cote, no relation to the author, and Mary Gorman. She garnered 1,588, easily beating two Republican candidates.
This victory marks a crucial step in visibility and making sure that the voices of trans-identifying and gender variant people are heard.
Among Laughton’s priorities are widening healthcare coverage to cover same-sex spouses and, in line with her conservative fiscal policies, reforming finance laws.
Pennsylvania Elects First Openly Gay Representative
Brian Sims, running against a Democratic candidate and with no Republican rival, was elected to represent Pennsylvania’s 182nd District, making him Pennsylvania’s first openly gay state lawmaker.
The former NCAA football star posted to Facebook about his win, saying:
“I’m honored by the support, humbled by all the hard work, and ready to take the Capitol by storm…a Progressive Storm! It’s going to be a long evening as we wait for the results of all the contested races around the Commonwealth, and the nation! I’m hopeful that when the dust settles, not only will I be joined by other out, LGBT state legislators in Pennsylvania, but hopefully dozens more in legislatures across the country, and our first ever out Senator!” Sims posted on Facebook Tuesday night. “Together, we have made history in Pennsylvania…THANK YOU!”
Sims campaigned on a platform of job creation, care for seniors, and campaign finance reform.
Congratulations to Stacey Laughton, Brian Sims and Kyrsten Sinema!
Image credit: Thinkstock.