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Michigan’s New AG Had A Powerful Message For People Who ‘Couldn’t Handle Her Being Openly Gay’ & Holding Office

Dana Nessel, Michigan’s newly-elected attorney general, has made history as the first gay person to hold statewide office there, the Advocate reports. Her closest opponent in the five-person race, Republican Tom Leonard, conceded Wednesday morning, saying she “ran a smart campaign and earned the voters’ trust,” according to The Detroit News.

This win means she also got to participate in what appears to be a time-honored tradition of politicians kissing their wives to celebrate a big win. A Facebook video posted by Between the Lines captured the moment in Nessel’s almost-victory speech from Tuesday night.

“And for all of you out there that can’t handle the fact that I’m about to become the first openly gay person to hold statewide office [in Michigan] …” she said, before turning and kissing her wife, Alanna Maguire.

Nessel was refreshingly defiant in the face of the homophobia she endured during her campaign. According to MLive, despite making it clear that helping the residents of Flint out of the city’s water crisis would be a top priority for her, the vice president of the NAACP branch there, A.C. Dumas, said he wouldn’t support Nessel “because she’s gay.”

Thankfully, Nessel persevered, and it paid off. The Detroit News reports that Mayor Annise Parker, president and CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, praised her strength, saying “Dana’s struggles and experiences as an openly lesbian woman has forged in her a commitment to fairness and equal rights — and her tremendous passion and energy for uplifting those values will be invaluable in the Attorney General’s Office.”

Nessel is one of more than 150 LGBTQ+ candidates who won during this year’s midterms, The New York Times reports. This is another step in the right direction for a nation who only legalized same-sex marriage three years ago.

Though Nessel’s moment with her wife was certainly an inspiring one, I hope we can someday get to a place where LGBTQ+ love doesn’t have to be politicized, and it can just exist. How many news articles have you read about straight male politicians kissing their wives after those victory speeches? The fact that this is news at all, means we still have a long way to go before we can claim equality.

However, I feel like things have been all doom-and-gloom for long enough, so in the meantime, you can catch me crying over this beautiful, beautiful “rainbow wave.” 

Haley is a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she studies sociology and music. She tutors elementary school students through America Reads, and she is a member of the Iota Tau chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota, a women's music fraternity. She enjoys sitting in coffee shops and having conversations about inequity and social justice.