CHICAGO — U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) was defeated tonight in his bid for re-election in Illinois’ 8th Congressional district seat by former Veteran’s Affairs Administration official and U.S. Army National Guard Reserve Lt. Colonel, Tammy Duckworth, a Democrat who lost both her legs during the Iraq war.
Walsh attracted criticism during the campaign for accusing Duckworth of using her war injuries to political advantage.
He also was condemned by the medical establishment for asserting that abortion was never necessary to save the life of the mother.
Duckworth, an LGBT ally, served as an antithesis to Walsh on many issues.
Walsh has been quoted in the Chicago Sun-Times as supporting the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the federal law that defines marriage as between one man and one woman.
“I believe that DOMA is constitutional and that society and government should protect marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman,” Walsh said.
Duckworth has said she fully supports the civil rights of LGBT individuals.
In a statement, Duckworth talked about her experience in the military — where she lost both of her legs and part of the use of her right arm when her Black Hawk helicopter was shot down — and how it shaped her views on gay marriage. Her husband was able to make major medical decisions when she could not and she feels that everyone should have that same right.
“I support the freedom to marry because everyone deserves the same level of access, support and love,” she said in a statement. “As a Member of Congress, I will work tirelessly to support the LGBT community and push for total equality.”
For Duckworth, social justice comes before political gain.
“My stance (on LGBT rights) is based on my conscience,” she said. “I don’t know whether it is good or bad (politically), but it is the right thing to do.”