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November 7, 2012 at 11:10 AM

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Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin’s wedge of history

As Washington waits to see if Referendum 74’s lead holds up, as I suspect it will, the news out of Wisconsin points to the future.

Democrat Tammy Baldwin defeated former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson to win election to the U.S. Senate. Baldwin is the first openly gay or lesbian member of the U.S. Senate.

Interesting, historic or not. Baldwin’s sexual orientation was never a factor in the race. Now maybe that is truly interesting and historic.

She is a seven-term Democratic representative, and voters judged her to be the best choice to be Wisconsin’s next senator. The state was looking for political skills and abilities and they found it in a candidate who is openly gay. The apparent conclusion was “so what?” That is the future.

Meanwhile, the future was also reflected in Maine and Maryland passing same-sex marriage laws. Minnesota voters rejected a constitutional measure to define marriage as between one man and one woman. Minnesota law still bans sex-marriage.

Wisconsin, which just elected Baldwin, and is likely to fill her House seat with another gay politician, also bans same-sex marriage by law and in the state constitution. Domestic partnerships have been legal since 2009. Wisconsin voters might be back making more history.

Washington voters via Referendum 74 are on track to affirm the right of same-sex couples to marry and raise families. That might well become as ordinary as electing solid political leaders, and shrugging about sexual orientation.

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