By Michelle Garcia
Originally published on Advocate.com January 03 2013 5:00 AM ET
1. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (Wisconsin)
Before Congress: Baldwin worked her way up through the Dane County Board of Supervisors and the Wisconsin State Assembly before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1998. She was the first woman to represent Wisconsin in Congress.
Campaign Promise: Baldwin was the lead sponsor on the House version of the “Buffett rule,” or the Paying a Fair Share Act of 2012, which would increase tax rates on millionaires and billionaires. The plan was proposed by President Obama in 2011, and Baldwin pushed the act as part of the remedy for budget problems during the “fiscal cliff” talks at the end of 2012.
Class Notes: The first openly gay U.S. senator.
2. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (Arizona)
Before Congress: Sinema started her career as a social worker and went on to become an attorney. She is an author and professor, and has served on the Arizona House of Representatives since 2004.
Campaign Promise: With immigration being a hot topic in Arizona, Sinema has pledged to push for a “tough but fair path to citizenship for undocumented workers that requires them to get right with the law by paying back taxes, paying a fine and learning English as a condition of gaining citizenship.”
Class Notes: The first openly bisexual member of Congress.
3. Rep. Mark Pocan (Wisconsin)
Before Congress: Pocan still owns and operates a union printing company, which he ran during his tenure in the Wisconsin State Assembly.
Campaign Promise: As a state representative, Pocan wrote a bill to restore collective bargaining rights for public employees after Gov. Scott Walker took action to limit such rights. Now, with endorsements by about 30 unions, Pocan supports efforts to curb job outsourcing and opposes trade deals that could result in U.S. job losses and environmental damage.
Class Notes: With Pocan succeeding Baldwin, his district is the first to elect two consecutive LGBT representatives to Congress.
4. Rep. Mark Takano (California)
Before Congress: Harvard-educated Takano was a high school teacher, gay-straight alliance adviser, and member of the Riverside Community College District Board of Trustees.
Campaign Promise: As a teacher, Takano is dedicated to reforming the No Child Left Behind law and expanding job training programs to reduce unemployment.
Class Notes: First openly LGBT person of color to serve in Congress.
5. Rep. Jared Polis (Colorado)
Before Congress: Before being elected to the House in 2008, Polis was an entrepreneur, a member of the Colorado State Board of Education, and founder of two charter schools. Polis is now the ranking LGBT member of the House with the retirement of Rep. Barney Frank and Baldwin moving to the Senate.
Campaign Promise: Polis’s first campaign ad last year focused on the need to improve education, and he promoted the use of research-based strategies to raise student achievement levels in struggling schools.
Class Notes: The first openly LGBT parent in Congress.
6. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (New York)
Before Congress: Maloney is making a return trip to Washington, where he was once a senior adviser to President Bill Clinton. Formerly a lawyer, Maloney founded Kiodex, a technology company, in 2000.
Campaign Promise: During the fall campaign Maloney denounced his Tea Party–affiliated opponent, Nan Hayworth, over her votes to dismantle Medicare.
Class Notes: New York State’s first gay congressman.
7. Rep. David Cicilline (Rhode Island)
Before Congress: Cicilline was a Washington, D.C., public defender who returned to Rhode Island to practice law. In 1994 he was elected to the state House of Representatives, and he became mayor of Providence in 2002. He just completed his first term in Congress.
Campaign Promise: In 2011, Cicilline urged President Obama to remove all American troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2012.
Class Notes: Serves on the Foreign Affairs and Small Business committees.