Election Night Firsts: Who Made History?

An historic evening for marijuana activists, women and gay rights advocates

| November 07, 2012
U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., waves to supporters after making her a victory speech in Wisconsin's U.S. Senate race.
U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., waves to supporters after making her a victory speech in Wisconsin's U.S. Senate race.
This election pitted the United States' first black president against Mitt Romney, who, had he won, would have become America's first Mormon president. What else made history Tuesday night?

1. Marijuana

Colorado was the first state in the United States to legalize recreational use of pot. A state amendment legalizing marijuana gained approval Nov. 6 with 53 percent of the vote, according to Reuters. Washington soon followed, with a pot legalization initiative getting 55 percent of the votes with about 60 percent of the ballots tallied. Both states, which already allow people to smoke pot for medical purposes, are defying federal marijuana laws with the new initiatives, so there's a chance that the Obama administration may challenge them.

2. Gay Rights

Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay U.S. senator after she defeated popular former Gov. Tommy Thompson. "Now, I am well aware that I will have the honor of being Wisconsin's first woman senator. And I am well aware that I will be the first openly gay member," Baldwin said during her victory speech. "But I didn't run to make history. I ran to make a difference."

Tuesday was also historic for gay marriage, with Maine and Maryland becoming the first states to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote, the Associated Press reported. While gay marriage is legal in other states, before Nov. 6, gays and lesbians had only been granted marriage rights by courts and state legislatures, the Washington Post explained.

3. Women in the Senate

After last night's Senate elections, 19 women now hold seats in the Senate, a record-breaking number.

“There’s no group that will be impacted more by this election than women,” Democratic New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said on her website. “Look at the bills the GOP House has passed this Congress: they voted to redefine rape, they voted to defund Planned Parenthood and Title X funding.”

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