The New Congress: A Victory for Diversity

A new day dawns on Congress, and, thankfully, it’s a more diverse day.

A record number of women –20 of them -- now have seats in the U.S. Senate.

As incumbent Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland noted this week, "In all of American history only 16 women had served. Now there are 20 of us."

There are also more Latinos and Asian Americans in Congress than ever before, including Mazie Hirono, the new Senator from Hawaii. She’s the first Buddhist and the first Asian American woman to be a Senator.

A record number of openly gay and lesbian members of Congress are also now serving.

Let me read the roll in the House: David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Sean Patrick Maloney, of New York, Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, Jared Polis of Colorado, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, and Mark Takano of California. Of these, I know Mark Pocan personally, and let me tell you, he’s a man of terrific integrity.

And in the U.S. Senate, of course, there’s another friend, the astonishing Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin.

In her election-night victory speech, Baldwin said: “I am well aware that I will have the honor to be Wisconsin's first woman U.S. Senator, and I am well aware that I will be the first openly gay member ... but I did not run to make history. I ran to make a difference!"

All of these new elected officials have made history, and in so doing, they’ve already made a difference.

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story “Farewell to Four Progressives Who Died in 2012."

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter

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