Conservatives, polish off your finest clutching pearls: after a close race, we're getting closer to a winner in Arizona's 9th Congressional district, and she's a Bill O'Reilly nightmare. Meet Kyrsten Sinema, a 36-year-old pro-LGBT, pro-environment, pro-choice, non-religious, openly bisexual Democrat in her thirties. AND SHE'S NOT EVEN MARRIED! If she and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann ever meet face-to-face (and they will), they have to fight Harry Potter and Voldemort-style.
Sinema was raised in a conservative Mormon household and attended Brigham Young University. Everything was in place for her to grow into a non-boat rocking go-along, get-along trophy wife. But, lucky for us, that's not what happened.
The State Senator has a veritable alphabet of educational qualifications to her name — undergraduate degree from BYU, graduate degree in social work from ASU, law degree from ASU, and, in 2012, Sinema earned her Ph.D in Justice Studies. Before running for Arizona State Senate, she worked as a school social worker, defense attorney, and adjunct professor.
As a State Senator, Sinema won multiple awards for her pro-environment voting record. In 2008, she founded Arizona Together, a coalition that helped defeat the state's same-sex marriage ban. She's fought in favor of the DREAM act, she's been recognized and rewarded by Planned Parenthood for her pro-choice advocacy, and she's the recipient of the Center for Inquiry's Award for the Advancement of Science and Reason in Public Policy in 2011.
If her 2,000-odd vote lead holds, she will also be the first ever openly bisexual member of the United States Congress, and, as a non religious adherent, she'll be the only openly non-religious member of the 435-member legislative body, as Congress' only other atheist (California's Pete Stark) was defeated in his bid for reelection this year.
So while things in Washington change for the better at an agonizingly slow pace, fans of diversity have something to celebrate this year. In addition to Sinema's historic run, voters picked Tammy Baldwin to be the first ever openly gay elected Senator, Grace Meng as New York's first Asian American Congresswoman, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii as the first ever Asian American female Senator, and Tulsi Gabbard as the country's first Hindu Congresswoman.
Update: The Sinema campaign wished to clarify that Sinema's religious views aren't something she cares to define publicly:
Kyrsten believes the terms non-theist, atheist or non-believer are not befitting of her life's work or personal character. She does not identify as any of those.
Background: Though Sinema was raised in a religious household, she draws her policymaking decisions from her experience as a social worker who worked with diverse communities and as a lawmaker who represented hundreds of thousands. Sinema is a student of all cultures in her community and has learned that responsible stewards must consider all faiths with respect and dignity. She believes that a secular approach is the best way to achieve this in good government.
You say tomato.
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