Could These 4 Kickass Young Women Change the Face of Congress?

Illustration for article titled Could These 4 Kickass Young Women Change the Face of Congress?

Washington DC's biggest export is bullshit, but not all news out of the Beltway is of or relating to said bullshit. In fact, sometimes, political news can be downright encouraging. Take, for example, the news that these four women — all 36 years old or younger — are running for Congress. Whether they can rattle cages in the District remains to be seen, but one thing's for sure — they will both give you hope for the future and remind you that you are a lazy, lazy bum.

Tulsi Gabbard

Tulsi Gabbard was raised by two socially conservative Hawaii politicians and launched a political career of her own when she ran for State Senate at 21. Yeah, you were trying to figure out how to get your roommate to pay her share of the electric bill that she says she didn't have to pay because she spent one night per week at her boyfriend's even though she didn't have a full time job and you did, so she was technically in the apartment more than you, and Tulsi Gabbard was running for damn public office. She won, naturally, and served for 2 years as the youngest ever elected legislator in Hawaii and the youngest elected female state legislator in American history.


But Gabbard wasn't done building her impressive resume. After serving her first term, she stepped down from public office to voluntarily serve a 12-month tour of duty in Iraq as a member of Hawaii's National Guard. When she returned, she attended the Accelerated Officer Candidate School at the Alabama Military Academy, where she (of course) became the first woman in the school's history to finish as the distinguished honor graduate. She currently serves on Honolulu's City Council. Now, at the ripe old age of 31, she's running for Congress in Hawaii's 2nd district.

Gabbard's campaign website lists her as pro-choice, pro-small business, pro-banking reform, but she is refreshingly socially libertarian on some issues — like marriage. She writes,

Because government is not and should not be considered a spiritual or religious institution, the word "marriage" should really not be in its lexicon of legal terms. Nor should government be in the business of defining what marriage is or is not. Government should not have the power to sanctify or refuse to sanctify with the word "marriage" conjugal loving relationships between two adults. [...]

Everyone deserves equal privileges, benefits, and rights and no one should be discriminated against because of their gender, age, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. The present two-tier system is inherently discriminatory. Therefore, I favor one legal status for all couples, regardless of sexual orientation: civil union.

Her pro-equality stance is especially noteworthy considering that her father, Mike Gabbard, has said some pretty out-there homophobic things during his political career. It's one thing to run for public office, but another to do so on a platform that stands against a family member. And it's another thing entirely to suggest that the government get out of the marriage business.

Grace Meng

New York State Legislator Grace Meng is running for New York's District 6 Congressional seat. If elected, she'll be the first Asian American woman to represent New York in Congress — but that's far from the most noteworthy item on Meng's impressive resume.


The 36-year-old Chinese-American former public interest lawyer has spent her career in the New York State Legislature doing the opposite of declaring a War on Women. She supported a law that would have required all New York universities to provide emergency contraception to any student who requested it and supported a bill that would have required health insurance companies to cover prescription formula. She's also called Rush Limbaugh on his bullshit when radio's loudest fart said some racist stuff about Chinese President Hu Jintao.

It looks like Meng's on her way to Washington — the Queens resident has the endorsement of New York City's 2013 Democratic mayoral candidates, Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez, and the several union and trade groups.


Kelda Roys

We've met Ms. Roys before, but she warrants a more formal introduction.


Thirty three-year-old Roys is running for Congress in Wisconsin's second district, the seat currently held by Tammy Baldwin, who could end up being the first openly gay elected Senator in US history. It would be an understatement to say that district leans Democratic (Madison, Wisconsin is the hippy dippy liberal stuff of Romney nightmares), so the general election is generally in the bag for Democrats here, but Roys faces opposition in the Democratic primary.


But she's dealt with tough odds before, and has been completely undaunted by her age or gender. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin's law school, she served as the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin. In 2008, at the age of 29, she was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly after winning a 5-way primary, and after being reelected in 2010, she was elected by her Democratic peers to serve as the Minority Caucus Chair.

Now, at 33, she's running on an unapologetically pro-choice platform and an "expert on women's health policy." About time — the knuckleheads currently writing regulations on the female body can't even bring themselves to say "vagina."


When I asked Roys whether she was intimidated by the prospect of being one of the youngest members of Congress, she told me with no hesitation that she wasn't, but that her future colleagues should be. Badass.

Kyrsten Sinema

Kyrsten Sinema's background, like Tulsi Gabbard's, is conservative. Raised in a Mormon home in Tuscon, Arizona, she attended Brigham Young University. But a future conservative political wife, she was not.


After graduating with a degree in social work, she returned to Phoenix and worked as a school social worker for 8 years before landing in the state's House of Representatives, where she's been a four-term bastion of sanity in Arizona's perpetual whirlwind of WTF. During her career, she's been a fearless defender of civil rights — in 2006, she led Arizona Together, which successfully helped defeat the state's same-sex marriage ban, and in 2008, she chaired Protect America's Freedom, a group that opposed Arizona's anti-affirmative action push. She's also stood against Governor Jan Brewer's push to eliminate comprehensive sex-ed from Arizona classrooms and nutty immigration policies. Hard, thankless work, from the sound of it — but thank goodness someone's doing it.

The 35-year-old is running for the House of Representatives in the newly-created District 9 in the state. If elected, she'll be the first openly bisexual member of Congress.


All four of these intimidatingly accomplished ladies just netted the endorsement of EMILY's List, an organization that seeks to promote the election of pro-abortion rights female candidates. If the War on Women were a summer blockbuster, this would be the part where the good guys unveiled their Secret Weapon, a flying motorcycle that shoots pink fire. Catch phrase!

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Tulsi Gabbard has said exactly what I believe: marriage= religion. Civil union= government. Everybody gets a civil union and the marriage issue is left up to individual churches.

Also, I'm super pumped about all these awesome young women running for Congress! I wish some of them were in my state so I could vote for them.