I begin with the words of San Francisco City Supervisor Harvey Milk, who, in 1978, became the first openly gay man elected to major office in the US.
"And the young gay people in the Altoona, Pennsylvanias and the Richmond, Minnesotas who are coming out and hear Anita Bryant in television and her story. The only thing they have to look forward to is hope. And you have to give them hope. Hope for a better world, hope for a better tomorrow, hope for a better place to come to if the pressures at home are too great. Hope that all will be all right. Without hope, not only gays, but the blacks, the seniors, the handicapped, the us'es, the us'es will give up. And if you help elect to the central committee and other offices, more gay people, that gives a green light to all who feel disenfranchised, a green light to move forward. It means hope to a nation that has given up, because if a gay person makes it, the doors are open to everyone."
This evening, in Wisconsin, Representative Tammy Baldwin (D-Madison) has defeated former Governor Tommy Thompson (R) to become the first openly gay person elected to the US Senate. With that feat, she has shattered a glass closet. Senator Elect Baldwin has given hope to a generation of young gay men and women (and all LGBTQ youths) that they too can achieve their dreams. That they too will not be held back because of who they love or who they go home to at night.
Thank you to the people of Wisconsin for humanizing the LGBTQ community with your confidence in Sen. Baldwin. You have said, "Even if I do not agree with your sexuality, I do not believe that does not mean you are qualified to serve my interests." You have made her more than just a "lesbian." You have looked beyond her sexuality and validated her as a public servant. And in doing so, you have done so much for our movement for equality.