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Maura Healey and Tina Kotek make history, winning elections to be first openly lesbian U.S. governors

Maura Healey elected Governor of Massachusetts
Maura Healey elected Governor of Massachusetts 02:49

Two women made history when they won their gubernatorial races in the 2022 midterm elections — becoming the first two openly lesbian governors in the U.S.

Maura Healey is the first woman to be elected governor of Massachusetts. Tina Kotek, the projected winner of the Oregon governor's race, will be only the second woman elected to lead her state.

Healey, who was the first openly gay attorney general elected in the country in 2014, was previously a civil rights lawyer. She led the first state challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, which banned same-sex marriage. 

Maura Healey
Maura Healey won her campaign for governor of Massachusetts. CBS Boston

As attorney general, she worked to hold Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family accountable for their role in fueling the opioid epidemic, and her office sued Exxon Mobil for lying about climate change.

She ran on a platform of investing in housing, public transportation, the clean energy economy, and job training.

Healey won the gubernatorial race against Republican Geoff Diehl. Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, decided not to seek re-election.

Massachusetts has had a woman governor before — Jane Swift was the first woman to fill the office in 2001 — but she was appointed to the role, not elected, when former Gov. Paul Cellucci was named U.S. Ambassador to Canada. 

Healey ran alongside lieutenant governor candidate Kim Driscoll, the mayor of Salem.

The Human Rights Campaign applauded Healey's win, saying, "as one of our nation's first lesbian governors, she will not only be a champion of pro-equality policies, but also a role model for the entire LGBTQ+ community."

In Oregon, it took several days of vote-counting before Kotek's victory in a three-person race was clear and her Republican opponent conceded. Kotek has served as speaker of the house in Oregon since 2013. She worked for nonprofits before becoming a state representative in 2007.

Tina Kotek
Oregon Democrat Tina Kotek served as a state legislator and House speaker in before running for governor. Tina Kotek handout via Reuters

She moved to Oregon from the East Coast in 1987 and earned a degree at the University of Oregon.

"I also came out as a lesbian in my early twenties and it was liberating," Kotek writes on her campaign website. "While it wasn't always easy, each experience coming out to others strengthened my resilience. For me, coming out became a personal responsibility to undermine hatred and bigotry. But it was bigger than me as an individual, so while getting my graduate degree, I fought for and won domestic partnership rights for faculty and students at the University of Washington."

Tina has been with her wife, Aimee, for 17 years. 

Kotek faced a close race against Republican Christine Drazan and independent Betsy Johnson, a former Democrat who drew some voters away from Kotek. Oregon has had a Democratic governor since 1987. 

Oregon Governor Kate Brown, who decided not to seek re-election, became the nation's first openly bisexual governor in 2015. She was previously Oregon's secretary of state and became governor when Gov. John Kitzhaber resigned. 

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