In a night of many historic firsts, California Democrat Mark Takano made history by becoming the first openly gay person of color to be elected to Congress. He is also the state’s first openly gay federal lawmaker, representing California's highly contested 41st District in Riverside County. Takano, a 41 year-old Japanese-American high school teacher, beat his Republican opponent, County Supervisor John Tavaglione, by a 56-44 margin.
The 2012 race was a far cry from Takano’s first attempts at a congressional seat in 1992 and 1994, where his sexual orientation was exploited and he lost. His opponent even sent constituents pink mailers that highlighted his sexuality. “Times certainly have changed,” he said, noting that “In my current race, not a single voter has asked me about being gay.” The 2012 election made history by having a record eight openly LGBT candidates for Congress, as well as having an all-time high of 25 Asian Americans running for seats across the country.
GLAAD congratulates Representative-elect Takano on his historic victory in California. His election is a step forward in increasing visibility of the country’s minority LGBT citizens and amplifying their voices on the national stage. His victory is a testament that candidates no longer need to stay in the closet in order to become elected and signals a shift toward a more inclusive group of officials in Congress.
Click here to read more of GLAAD’s election night coverage and about the marriage victories in Maryland, Maine and Minnesota.