November 12, 2012 at 2:49 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Bi candidate declared winner in Ariz. congressional race

Kyrsten Sinema (photo courtesy of Kyrsten Sinema campaign)

A former state lawmaker made history on Monday by becoming the first openly bisexual person elected to Congress after being declared the winner in a tight Arizona congressional race.

Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat who had served for seven years in the Arizona state legislature, won in her race against Republican candidate Vernon Parker, a former Department of Agriculture official in the Bush administration. Sinema will represent Arizona’s 9th congressional district in the U.S. House.

The Associated Press called the race for Sinema on Monday afternoon. According to an official state website, Sinema claimed 48.1 percent of the vote while Parker had 45.4 percent.

The race wasn’t called until six days after the election because Sinema’s apparent margin of victory was so slim on Election Day. But her lead grew to a margin of more more than 6,000 votes after absentee and provisional ballots were counted, prompting the AP to declare her the winner.

Robyn Ochs, a Boston-based bisexual activist and educator and editor of Bi Women, called Sinema’s victory a milestone for bisexual Americans.

“I’m doing the happy dance,” Ochs said. “As someone who has identified as bi for 36 years, it’s about time there is finally someone in Congress who shares my sexual orientation label. We’ve made a lot of progress as a society in terms of electing out lesbian or gay officials, and I hope we’re approaching a time when bi or trans identities also cease to be remarkable.”

In addition to being the first openly bisexual member of Congress, Sinema will be the first openly LGBT woman elected to Congress since the election of Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) to a U.S. House seat in 1998.

Sinema’s will join six other openly LGBT candidates were elected to Congress. Baldwin became the first openly gay person elected to the U.S. Senate while Reps. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and David Cicilline (D-R.I.) won re-election to the U.S. House. Sean Patrick Maloney, Mark Takano and Mark Pocan won U.S. House seats for the first time.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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