New Hampshire joins neighboring Maine in making history this Election Night, welcoming its very first transgender lawmaker.
The Nashua Telegraph reports that Stacie Laughton, a Democrat, beat out two Republican candidates for one of three seats in the state's House of Representatives in Ward 4. In the interview, Laughton told the Telegraph's Joseph G. Cote that she hopes her victory will inspire other lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) candidates in both local and national politics.
“My hope is that now maybe we’ll see more people in the community running, maybe for alderman," she said. "We are people, too, who still have talents and ideas. And I hope that people won’t be afraid to get into politics, or any other position, for that matter. I want the community to feel inspired."
Openly gay lawmakers have served in the New Hampshire Legislature before, including former Rep. Ray Buckley, now chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party. But as she told Nashua Patch in June, Laughton hopes area residents will be able to focus more on her message than her gender identity.
"I don't want being transgender to be a focal point," she said at the time. "I want to stand on the issues...because of who I am, I believe I can work between party lines and not let political partisanship hold us up when it comes to the important matters before us at the Statehouse."
It's been a truly benchmark year for LGBT rights, particularly in the New England area. Voters in Maine opted to approve same-sex marriage, making it the first time marriage equality has been legalized via the ballot.
"We are thrilled for all Maine families and for the dedicated campaign that led this effort through to the end," Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said in an email statement. "As we celebrate victory tonight we know we have added momentum to ensure that this victory is soon felt in every corner of this country."
Take a look at other openly LGBT candidates who were victorious on Election Night below:
Sean Patrick Maloney (D)
A former Bill Clinton aide, Maloney won a congressional seat in New York's 18th district, becoming the state's first openly gay member of Congress.
David Cicilline (D)
The former mayor of Providence, Cicilline became the nation's fourth openly LGBT member of Congress when he was elected two years ago. He won re-election in Rhode Island's 1st Congressional District and will now serve his state in the House of Representatives until 2015.
Mark Pocan (D)
The Wisconsin representative won Tammy Baldwin's seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, the state's 2nd congressional district. This marks the first time an openly LGBT member of Congress was succeeded by another in the same district.
Jared Polis (D)
Polis swept to victory for the third time, nabbing a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in Colorado's 2nd Congressional District. "I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and working to get this country moving forward," the openly gay father has said.
Kate Brown (D)
Oregon's secretary of state won a second term by nine percentage points, despite a strong challenge from Republican Knute Buehler.
Stephen Skinner (D)
Skinner becomes the first openly gay candidate to win election to the West Virginia state legislature. Prior to this, he was the founder and board president of Fairness West Virginia, an statewide LGBT advocacy group.
Tim Brown (R)
Brown, defeated two opponents in the race for Ohio's 3rd House District seat, representing Wood County. The Republican candidate has said he plans to promote business and create jobs for Wood County by reducing government regulations and keeping taxes low as a state representative.
Joshua Boschee (D)
North Dakota made history by sending Boschee, the first openly gay state representative, to the state legislature.
Justin Chenette (D)
Not only did Chenette win a seat in Maine's House of Representatives, he's also the youngest openly gay legislator in the United States.
Joe Saunders (D)
Orlando area democrats handed first time political candidate and Equity Florida staffer Joe Saunders a seat in the Florida House of Representatives.
David Richardson (D)
Richardson (right) defeated three other candidates Nov. 6 to represent state House District 113 in Miami Beach. "I am the first openly gay legislator in the history of Florida. And forever will be," Richardson, who grew up in Orlando, said. "I don't want people to vote for me or not vote for me because I'm gay. I just want people to look at my record." (on left: SAVE Dade Executive Director C.J. Ortuño)
Mark Takano (D)
An openly gay candidate for Congress in Riverside County, California, Takano leads in the race for a seat in the U.S. House. If elected, he would become the first openly LGBT person of color to serve in Congress.
Kyrsten Sinema (D)
As of press time, the Arizona Democrat is currently in the lead for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, Arizona's 9th Congressional District.
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