Tammy Baldwin Biography

U.S. Representative (1962–)
Tammy Baldwin is the first openly gay politician elected to the U.S. Senate. She is also Wisconsin's first congresswoman.


Democratic politician Tammy Baldwin was born in Wisconsin on February 11, 1962. From 1993 to 1999, Baldwin represented her state's 78th District in the Wisconsin State Assembly. While serving in the House (1999-2012), she became known for focusing on energy issues—serving on the House's Committee on Energy and Commerce—and for supporting LGBT rights and universal health care. Baldwin went on to become Wisconsin's first congresswoman, defeating Republican candidate Josephine Musser in the 1998 election for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. She became the first openly gay politician elected to the U.S. Senate, as well as the first Wisconsin woman elected to the Senate, in 2012.

Early Life

Tammy Baldwin, elected U.S. Senate for Wisconsin in 2012, was born Tammy Suzanne Green Baldwin on February 11, 1962, to Joseph Edward Baldwin and Pamela (Green) Baldwin. Born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin, Baldwin graduated No. 1 in her class from Madison West High School in 1980. Following high school, she enrolled at Smith College in Massachusetts, where she majored in mathematics and government and graduated in 1984. She went on to receive a law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1989. By that time, Baldwin had already begun a career in the public serice arena: she was elected to the Dane County Board of Supervisors in 1986, representing Madison's downtown area. That same year, she also served a stint on the Madison Common Council.

Early Political Career

After passing Wisconsin's Board Bar of Examiners in 1989, Baldwin began practicing law in the state while continuing her service as a member of the Dane County Board of Supervisors. Baldwin was elected to a fourth term on the board in 1992, in addition to a seat in the Wisconsin State Assembly; she simultaneously served her fourth and final term on the Board of Supervisors and first term in the Wisconsin Assembly, representing the state's 78th Assembly District (including parts of Madison), from 1993 to 1994. (She worked as an attorney until 1992.)

Baldwin was twice re-elected to Wisconsin's Assembly (District 78), serving until January 1999, when advanced to a higher legislative position—and made national political history. In the 1998 election, Baldwin defeated Republican candidate Josephine Musser for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, becoming the first woman from Wisconsin to serve in Congress, as well as only the second openly gay member of the House (after Barney Frank). Representing Wisconsin's 2nd District (including seven of the state's counties) from 1999 to 2012, and serving on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Baldwin became known for her strong support of LGBT rights and universal health care, among other issues. Among her accomplishments in the House, Baldwin created legislation to enhance paralysis and rehabilitation research (the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act), which was included in a bill that President Barack Obama signed into law in 2009.

U.S. Senate

More than a decade after becoming Wisconsin's first congresswoman, Baldwin became the first openly gay politician elected to the U.S. Senate, beating Republican candidate Tommy Thompson in the November 2012 election. (She is also the first Wisconsin woman elected to the Senate.)

According to her official website, Baldwin's mantra is to ignore "the naysayers, the cynics, and the keepers of the status quo; [those who say] you can't, you shouldn't or you won't."

Personal Life

In the mid-1990s, Baldwin began dating Lauren Azar, who was appointed commissioner of the Wisconsin Public Service Commission in 2007. The couple split in 2010, after nearly 15 years together, and just months after registering for domestic partnership in the state of Wisconsin.

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