Milestones of the 2012 General Election

Important firsts in gay marriage, women in the Senate, legalized marijuana, and more

By Beth Rowen
Tammy Baldwin U.S. Senator from Wisconsin

Tammy Baldwin

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The 2012 general election will make the record books on several fronts—mostly involving social issues. In a campaign in which women's health was a central theme and fears that the election of Mitt Romney would result in a "war on women," results of the 2012 race came down on the side of women. Here's a look at how the 2012 general election will make political history.

  • Tammy Baldwin, a seven-term Democratic congresswoman from Wisconsin, prevailed over former governor Tommy Thompson in the race for U.S. Senate and became the first openly gay politician elected to the Senate. "This is a big day for gay women in America, and really, for all communities who aren't the typical straight, white, wealthy men elected to Congress," she said.
  • A record 20 women will have seats in the Senate when the 113th Congress convenes in January 2013. There are currently 17 women serving in the Senate, and women picked up seats in Massachusetts (Elizabeth Warren–D), Wisconsin (Tammy Baldwin–D), Hawaii (Mazie Hirono–D), North Dakota (Heidi Heitkamp—D), and Nebraska (Deb Fischer—R). Maine senator Olympia Snowe and Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas are retiring.
  • For the first time gay marriage was approved in a popular vote. In fact, three states—Maine, Maryland, and Washington—voted in favor of allowing same-sex marriage. In addition, voters in Minnesota rejected a measure to ban same-sex marriage.
  • Colorado and Washington voted in favor of the legalization of the recreational use of marijuana, becoming the first states to do so. However, pot is still considered illegal under federal law.

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