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Madland: Pocan and Baldwin make National Journal's list of influential out Washingtonians

Wisconsinites make up one-quarter of openly gay members of Congress.
Credit:National Journal
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Wisconsin made a good showing in the National Journal's picks for "The 30 Most Influential Out Washingtonians."

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan and U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin made the cut, as did Steve Gunderson, a former U.S. representative and current president of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities. The magazine does misidentify Pocan as a second-term congressman. A former state rep, he was elected to Congress in November 2012, the same year Baldwin, a former U.S. representative, was elected to the U.S. Senate.

Pocan and Baldwin were also part of the cover shot, posing with six other openly gay members of Congress. The two also penned essays about being out in Washington.

Pocan got personal, telling how he was beaten unconscious in a gay-bashing incident after college and how that experience propelled him into a life of public service.

He wrote:

Now as a member of Congress and the co-chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus, I have been given the opportunity to continue the push toward full equality at a time in history when concrete progress is possible. Having already witnessed the Supreme Court send the Defense of Marriage Act into the history books, I look forward to working with my colleagues, from both sides of the aisle, on continuing to move forward and pass legislation such as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and a bill I introduced with Rep. Charles Rangel, the Restore Honor to Service Members Act, which will ensure we honor LGBT veterans who have selflessly served our country. The same is true for my home state. I will not rest until Wisconsin also recognizes the rights of all of its citizens to be with the person they love.

Baldwin didn't get as personal as Pocan, but did says she was proud to become the first woman senator from Wisconsin and the first openly gay member of the United States Senate when she took office in January 2013.

Baldwin noted the progress in gay rights this year but said there is more work that needs to be done. She wrote:

[W]e don't just want to live in a country where our rights are respected under the law. We want to live in a country where we are respected for who we are, where we enjoy freedom and opportunity not because the Supreme Court gave us permission but because we're Americans, and that's all there is to it.

The complete list assembled by National Journal can be read here.

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