Becca Balint will officially become the first out LGBTQ and first woman member of Congress from Vermont.
In March, the current President Pro Tempore of the Vermont State Senate told LGBTQ Nation that her main reason for running for Congress is to combat the rising threat of authoritarianism in the U.S.
“Being in my office when the January 6th insurrection happened, it really hit me quite hard thinking about what we need to do as a nation to get beyond this moment that we’re in,” she said.
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She also said she is focused on stemming the rising tide of Republican extremism by reaching across the aisle.
“I do think it’s my job not just to prop up democrats and progressives in my party to stand up against that kind of hatred. It’s also important for me to invest in my Republican colleagues who also want a different way and a different path forward. They need to feel like we are not abandoning them entirely because of the rise of Trumpism if they don’t see themselves in line with that.”
Balint’s grandfather was killed in the Holocaust, and for her, “issues around authoritarianism and fascism, they’re not abstract.”
Balint has endured ignorance and homophobia throughout her life, but she said she has always maintained her faith that making connections with people – especially those with whom she doesn’t see eye to eye – can foster real change.
In her Congressional campaign video, she tells the story of moving to Brattleboro, Vermont with her wife and noticing their neighbor’s anti-gay sign on display. Connecting with that neighbor, she said, actually changed their views.
“From a wave to a conversation to a borrowed lawn mower, things changed and the sign came down,” she said.
As such, one of the big messages of Balint’s campaign was that neighbors must stop turning away from each other and start working harder to understand each other.
Balint is well-accustomed to blazing trails, having also been the first woman and out gay person to become President Pro Tempore of the state Senate.
In Congress, Balint plans to tackle the workforce and housing shortage crises taking place across many states. She also plans to advocate for “Medicare for All”, as well as greater investments in childcare, paid sick leave, and minimum wage increases.
She also emphasized to LGBTQ Nation that she isn’t coming to bipartisanship – or even neighborly connections – from a place of naïveté. She knows some people are never going to come around and that not everyone is safe to connect with. But for those that are, she said, it’s crucial to try.“I want us as a nation to survive, and we need as many allies trying to save the Republic as we can get, and it can’t just fall down along political lines.”
Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, celebrated Balint’s victory.
“The future of LGBTQ equality and women’s rights were on the ballot – and Vermonters delivered tonight,” Parker said in a statement. “For nearly a decade, Becca led efforts to pass meaningful legislation to increase fairness and equity within Vermont. Now, she is ready to do the same in Congress. We are confident Becca will be a fierce pro-equality, pro-choice champion in the House of Representatives. We are also confident her historic victory tonight will inspire countless other LGBTQ and women leaders to pursue public service.”