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Thursday, November 8, 2012

With state representive win, Laughton state’s first openly transgender lawmaker

NASHUA – Overshadowed by the wave of historic results that emerged from Tuesday’s election, including women taking the governor’s office as well as two congressional seats and making New Hampshire the first state with an all-female delegation, was another bit of history.

Stacie Laughton, a Democrat, became the first openly transgender lawmaker in the state. ...

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NASHUA – Overshadowed by the wave of historic results that emerged from Tuesday’s election, including women taking the governor’s office as well as two congressional seats and making New Hampshire the first state with an all-female delegation, was another bit of history.

Stacie Laughton, a Democrat, became the first openly transgender lawmaker in the state.

“I believe that at
this point, the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual,
transgender) community will hopefully be inspired,” Laughton said Wednesday. “My hope is that now maybe we’ll see more people in the community running, maybe for alderman. Maybe in the next election, we’ll have a senator.”

Laughton won one of three seats in the state House of Representatives in Ward 4, joining Democrats David Cote, no relation to the author, and Mary Gorman. She garnered 1,588, easily beating two Republican candidates.

Marla Brettschneider, a University of New Hampshire political science professor, said Laughton’s election is a remarkable moment in terms of the election itself and that it took until 2012 for a transgender person to crack the Statehouse.

“It’s very important,” Brettschneider said. “It’s a really historic moment for (Nashua) and New Hampshire and the nation to start to really reimagine what citizenship and leadership can look like.”

Gay and lesbian issues took steps forward in several state’s Tuesday.

Maine and Maryland voters made their states the first to pass legalized gay marriage by a popular vote.

Six other states allow gay marriage but that was enacted by courts or legislatures.

Voters in Minnesota defeated a constitutional measure that would
have banned gay marriage.

Democrat Tammy Baldwin also became the nation’s first openly gay U.S. senator Tuesday, winning a competitive race in Wisconsin.

Before the election, Laughton, who serves as a Ward 4 selectman, said she’ll focus on issues facing the state rather than her identity.

She said advocating for the homeless and people with mental illness and physical disabilities and strengthening public schools will be her top priorities.

She said she also would like to work on legislation to make it easier for transgender people to be recognized in the state, including measures that would make it easier for group members to change their gender on state-issued IDs and being able to use the restroom of their choice.

“The state needs to be welcoming and affirming and sending that message that we will be welcoming and you won’t be discriminated against in New Hampshire,” Laughton said.

Laughton said that while her identifying as a woman may scare some, she hopes she will gain support.

“I hope that through this, there is more of a coming out from the LGBTQ community,” she said. “We are people,
too, who still have talents and ideas. And I hope that people won’t be afraid
to get into politics, or
any other position, for
that matter. I want the community to feel inspired.”

Joseph G. Cote can be reached at 594-6415 or jcote@nashua
telegraph.com. Also follow Cote on Twitter (@Telegraph_JoeC).