Four lesbian Democrats are running for House seats this year, according to an article in the Congressional Quarterly. Retired Army Col. Margarethe Cammermeyer is running for Washington’s 2nd District; State Representative Tammy Baldwin is seeking election in Wisconsin’s 2nd District; San Diego City Councilwoman Christine Kehoe is running in California’s 49th District and former Massachusetts State Rep. Susan Tracy for the 8th District seat.
If the candidates are elected, they will become the first openly gay women in Congress. While there have been Congresspersons who were openly gay, they acknowledged their orientation only after winning their seats. In 1997, there were 132 gay elected officials from 27 states and in the District of Columbia, according to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute.
All of the current lesbian candidates are basing their campaigns on Democratic themes, rather than their sexual orientation. “While there will always be a handful of people who might not vote for a woman or who might not vote for someone because they are gay or lesbian,” said Baldwin, “the vast majority of people will make their decision based on competence and issues,” she said.
Rep. Kehoe commented that being gay “is not what I’m running on. Education, choice (on abortion), environment, handgun control; all these issues are the big issues for the voters of the Congressional District.
Tracy is receiving campaign aid from Elsie Frank, the leading senior citizen advocate in Massachusetts and the mother of the openly gay Democrat Rep. Barney Frank. The former Representative is focusing on Social Security in her campaign. Tracy is running against former Vatican Ambassador and anti-choice Boston Mayor Ray Flynn for the 8th Congressional District Seat.