WATCH: Tammy Baldwin vs. Tommy Thompson on Marriage Equality

By Sunnivie Brydum

Originally published on Advocate.com October 02 2012 4:18 PM ET

Wisconsin representative Tammy Baldwin squared off against former governor Tommy Thompson this weekend in the first debate of their closely watched Senate contest. If elected, Baldwin, who currently holds a double-digit lead in the polls, would be the first openly gay person elected to the U.S. Senate.

When the moderator asked each candidate for their views on same-sex marriage, civil unions, and the patchwork of laws nationwide regarding relationship recognition, Thompson said, "71 out of 72 counties voted for a constitutional amendment in Wisconsin, and I support those 71 counties. Same-sex marriage is not legal in the state of Wisconsin, and I support that. It's an issue that's left up for the states, and that's where it should be."

Baldwin, looking directly into the camera, told the moderator, "I believe in principles of equality, and I certainly support marriage equality. I recognize what the voters of Wisconsin decided back in 2006, but we know that every year, people are thinking about this issue and changing their minds."

Baldwin went on to highlight President Barack Obama's May interview with ABC, in which he stated his personal support for marriage equality. Baldwin began to draw a comparison to Obama's evolution on the issue, saying that similar conversations were taking place around the country and in Wisconsin, but she ran out of time and the moderator cut her commentary short.

Watch the video, posted by the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, below.