In a history-making vote Tuesday, Vermont Democrats chose Becca Balint as their nominee for the state's only seat in the U.S. House of Representatives -- and Balint, a lesbian, would be the first woman and first out member of the LGBTQ+ community to represent the state in that body.
Balint prevailed over Lt. Gov. Molly Gray in the Democratic primary, and she'll face Republican Liam Madden in November -- but the state is solidly Democratic.
Balint, one of The Advocate's 2021 Champions of Pride, is currently president pro tempore of the Vermont State Senate, the first woman and first out LGBTQ+ person to hold that post. The congressional seat opened up with U.S. Rep. Peter Welch's decision to run for U.S. Senate, as Sen. Patrick Leahy is retiring. Welch won the Democratic primary easily.
Balint won her primary more easily than expected, VT Digger reports. "What was initially believed to be a closely fought race was instead a blowout victory for Balint," the site notes. She ended up beating Gray by about 60 percent to 36 percent.
"It's finally our time. It's finally our time," Balint told supporters in downtown Brattleboro, according to VT Digger. "I never thought that this would be where I would be in my life. I wanted it so badly, but I did not think it would be possible for me to run as an openly gay politician."
Annise Parker, president and CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund, which endorsed Balint, issued the following statement about Balint's win: "Tonight voters made their voices heard loud and clear: they are excited about Becca and her compelling vision for Vermont and our country, one founded in courage and kindness. For nearly a decade, Becca has worked tirelessly to enact meaningful legislation to increase fairness and equity in her community. Now, she is ready to do the same in Congress. With legislation currently moving through Congress to enshrine LGBTQ rights and abortion rights into federal law, the urgency of this election could not be more clear. Our community and allies cannot afford to wait - or sit on the sidelines -- when the rights of millions of Americans are on the line. We are confident Becca will continue to be a fierce pro-equality, pro-choice champion for all Americans."