In an election night of many historic firsts, there’s one we want to highlight. Dana Nessel, a Democrat, has become the first openly gay person elected to statewide office in Michigan. Oh, and did we mention she’s Jewish?
Nessel is part of what many are calling a “rainbow wave” — the election of LGBTQ+ officials — and we’re kvelling over her.
She is already a huge political figure: As an attorney in 2012, she helped challenge Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage (DeBoer v. Snyder), which eventually became one of the cases that was consolidated into Obergefell v. Hodges. It came before the Supreme Court and led to the historic ruling on marriage equality in 2015.
Nesser proposed to her girlfriend, Alanna, outside the Supreme Court following the case. They are now married with twin sons.
On Tuesday she was elected as Michigan’s Attorney General, defeating the incumbent who was anti-gay marriage. Before officially winning, she said, “Tom Leonard, if you’re watching this, feel free to call me and concede at any time. And for all of you that can’t handle I’m the first openly gay person to hold statewide office…” Nessel then kissed her wife on stage. Which, you know, is amazing.
To go from a virulently anti-LGBT Michigan attorney general in Bill Schuette to Dana Nessel is what progress looks like. Schuette fought same-sex marriage all the way to the US Supreme Court. Nessel was on the winning side. 🌈
— Susan J. Demas 🏔 (@sjdemas) November 7, 2018
“I see a connection personally between my faith and civil rights work in general,” Nessel said in 2017. “I’ve seen a lot of parallels in terms of how Jews and LGBTQ people have been treated. It’s really incumbent upon us to help other minority groups who are being oppressed. It’s a responsibility we have; we lose our right to righteous indignation if we don’t help others.”