Democrat Maura Healey is the projected winner of the Massachusetts gubernatorial race, beating Republican Geoff Diehl and making history as the first lesbian to be elected governor, according to NBC News.
Healey is the state attorney general and Diehl is a former state representative who co-chaired former President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign in Massachusetts.
Healey’s victory was a long-awaited win for LGBTQ advocates who have been trying to elect a lesbian to the highest state government office for decades.
Annise Parker, president and CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, which helps gay candidates get elected to public office, said Healey’s historic victory will help send a message that “LGBTQ people have a place.” in American society and can become respected public leaders.
“We are confident that under Maura’s leadership, Massachusetts will reach new heights as one of the most inclusive states in the nation,” Parker said in a statement.
Healey will follow two other LGBTQ Democrats who have been elected to lead their states: Oregon Governor Kate Brown, who is bisexual, became the first openly LGBTQ person to be elected governor in 2015, and Colorado Governor Jared Polis, became the first openly gay man to be elected governor in 2018. (Former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey was not out when he was elected to office in 2001; he came out as gay in his 2004 resignation speech.)
Another LGBTQ Democrat, lesbian Tina Kotek, may join Healey in her historic feat. Kotek is in a three-way competitive governor race in Oregon.
Healey is no stranger to breaking glass ceilings for LGBTQ Americans.
In 2009, Healey led the nation’s first successful challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 law that barred federal recognition of same-sex marriages. And in 2014, she broke barriers again, becoming the nation’s first lesbian to be elected as the state’s attorney general.
Her campaign website says Healey, who was born in Maryland, was born ‘over’ Massachusetts – her longtime Massachusetts family placed state dirt under her birthing bed before her birth. birth. Healey grew up as the eldest of five siblings on an old farmhouse in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire.
She planted her seeds in the state when she attended Harvard College, where she captained the women’s basketball team. After playing professional basketball in Austria for several years, she returned to Massachusetts to attend Northeastern University School of Law.
Several years after graduating, Healey began her life in public service working for the office she would one day lead, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. During this time, she had the opportunity to work with someone she described in a previous interview as one of her lesbian role models: lawyer and civil rights advocate Mary Bonauto, who is best known for having argued on behalf of same-sex couples in the 2015 Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges, who legalized same-sex marriage in the United States
In a previous interviewHealey said if elected, she would use her bully pulpit to fight the historic number of anti-LGBTQ bills circulating in state legislatures and the seemingly pervasive threats of violence the community has been subjected to this year. .
This summer, at least two of those threats were aimed at Boston’s LGBTQ community. An affordable housing project for LGBTQ seniors was vandalized with homophobic and threatening graffiti in July, and August, Boston Children’s Hospital made national headlines when it received a bomb threat to provide gender-affirming care to transgender youth.
“What we see is really sad, and it is unacceptable. And sadly, it’s a reflection of the hatred and the vision that exists and is tearing this country apart,” Healey said in a previous interview. “In Massachusetts, we will stand up to threats and intimidation — I did that as attorney general and I will do that as governor.”
She added, “My message to the LGBTQ community here is that I want people to know they are valued and loved, and we will work hard to protect their rights.”