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Democrat Becca Balint projected to be Vermont's first woman and openly LGBTQ person in Congress

America Decides: 2022 Election Update
America Decides: CBS News 2022 Election Update 48:41

History was made in Vermont on Tuesday. CBS News projects that Becca Balint defeated Republican Liam Madden for the House seat, making her the state's first woman and openly LGBTQ member of Congress. 

Balint, a self-described "mom, teacher and progressive leader who has had to fight her whole life as an outsider," tweeted to voters early Wednesday, thanking them for her win. 

"Thank you for your confidence in me. Thank you for giving me this incredible honor and opportunity to serve this state I love so much," she said. "Today, we reaffirmed that Vermont, and this nation, is still a place where anything is possible." 

Balint, who grew up predominantly in upstate New York, has officially been a Vermont resident since 1997. It's there where she met her current wife, Elizabeth Wohl, and continued to teach in rural public schools. The couple now shares two children. 

Balint has been a member of the Vermont Senate since 2014, where she has served on numerous committees related to housing, education and economic development. In 2016, she was elected Senate Majority Leader and appointed the Chair of the Senate Sexual Harassment Prevention Panel. 

And Tuesday's historic win was not her first. On January 6, 2021 – the same day that the U.S. Capitol was under attack by mobs seeking to prevent the certification of the presidential election – she became the first woman and first openly gay person to be elected the Vermont Senate's President Pro Tempore

"She's the daughter of an immigrant dad and a working class mom, and her parents never took for granted the rights and privileges provided by the United States Constitution," her state senate biography says. "Her paternal grandfather was killed in the Holocaust, and her father's family saw firsthand the cruelties people can perpetrate when the law does not protect those in marginalized communities, or when government officials approve the targeting of those who are seen as different."

Last week, Balint tweeted that "politics is not a zero-sum game" and said that the nation needs "rapid and structural steps to protect & strengthen our democracy." To make that happen, she has vowed to help protect voter rights, work to end the electoral college and partisan gerrymandering and end "corruption in Washington," among other things.

"We need to have the courage, kindness & fierce resolve to do the work for regular people," she said. "[Vermont] remains a beacon of democratic hope for the country, but we must be vigilant if we're to keep corrosive politics at bay." 

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