First (Openly) Gay Senator Elected – and the First Buddhist Senator, Too!

A lot of awesome things happened Tuesday night. I don’t want to come off as overly partisan, but it’s hard not to: reason and common sense prevailed over dogma and hate. That’s kind of just a summary of what happened, a retelling of events.

History went and got itself MADE in many ways, one of which being that America got its first openly gay senator (keyword ‘openly,’ avoiding any obvious jokes about the silly anti-gay senator, who likely abide by by the schoolyard rule that the bully who throws around the most homophobic slurs is probably a closeted homosexual), Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin. And that’s a big deal.

Why is it a big deal? When it comes down to it, one’s sexuality isn’t going to influence their policymaking or general Senatorial actions (any intelligent Senator will support gay rights,) so why does electing a homosexual senator matter? Because democracy (that’s not a sentence, but it’s the answer). The people of Wisconsin decided to be… logical, and say to themselves, “A homosexual person is perfectly qualified to represent me in the Senate.” The fact that ones sexuality DOESN’T matter, matters. Wisconsinians were smart enough to realize that the sexuality of their Senator was irrelevant: Tammy Baldwin is smart, compassionate, and good at politics. That’s all you need, that’s what matters. Congresswoman Baldwin is the most qualified candidate, and deserves to become Senator Baldwin–the people of Wisconsin realized that and elected her. The election of a person in a minority to a government office is important because it represents a paradigm shift: not only was the minority person able to reach the point where they’d vie for public office, but the general public was willing to put them in that office.

Of course it’s a symbolic victory for the gay community (and the non-bigoted straight community). I’m not gay (and the fact that I thought I needed to include that disclaimer, that making that point was important to me, is part of our society’s problem), but I am very aware that having a member of your community have a big win like this is inspiring, especially for the younger generation. But why is there a community? Why does there need to be a gay community when there can just be one general community? Why do we have to be (insert label here) people, instead of just people people? It is obvious that a gay person can be senator, because gay people can do anything, because they’re people. Duh. Same is true of any minority, or majority, or anyone. Anyone can do anything (sure, I probably can’t play football because I’m a chump, but that’s not my point.) This is as much a victory for general American society as it is for Tammy Baldwin–we are all participating in the slow death of bigotry (the final heartbeat of which is still far in the future, unfortunately.)

In addition to Baldwin’s election, other non-federal victories for common sense were achieved: multiple states passed regulations in favor of ending prohibition of marijuana, and multiple states made strides towards gay marriage. The people who still oppose gay marriage are kind of like jerks standing on the escalator of society, refusing to budge: everyone else is trying to make progress, but they’re impeding it due to a mix of laziness, stubbornness, hatred, lack of empathy, and general stupidity.

Another historic first Senator was also elected: the first Buddhist to waltz across the Senate floor, Mazie Hirano, will take a seat in Hawaii. Representative Hirano is pretty cool apparently, “Rep. Mazie Hirono, a Hawaii Democrat who was raised in the Buddhist tradition, said, ‘I don’t have a book. … But I certainly believe in the precepts of Buddhism and that of tolerance of other religions and integrity and honesty.’” Again, common sense prevailing over silliness and dogmatic hatred. Hirano is also the first Asian woman to hold a Senate seat, she quipped, “‘I bring quadruple diversity to the Senate. I’m a woman. I’ll be the first Asian woman ever to be elected to the U.S. Senate. I am an immigrant. I am a Buddhist. When I said this at one of my gatherings, they said, ‘Yes, but are you gay?’ and I said, ‘Nobody’s perfect.’”

Hawaii also elected America’s first Hindu congressperson, Ami Bera.

Oh yeah, and apparently this Obama guy’s gonna be sticking around too. Cool.