Maura Healey elected US's first openly lesbian governor

Democrat Maura Healey becomes nation’s first openly lesbian governor: Harvard educated former pro-basketball player swept more than 50% of votes in Massachusetts

  • Massachusetts elected America’s first openly lesbian governor, Democrat Maura Healey on Tuesday
  • Healey, 51, flipped the seat from Republican rule defeating opponent Geoff Diehl
  • She was long thought to be the frontrunner, after outgoing Gov Charlie Baker refused to endorse Diehl, who was endorsed by former president Donald Trump 
  • In her victory speech, she vowed to ‘be a governor for everyone struggling with higher costs’ and protect women’s rights to abortions
  • She is now Massachusetts first female governor 

Massachusetts elected the United States’ first openly lesbian governor on Tuesday night when Harvard-educated Maura Healey beat out a Trump-backed Republican to become the state’s first female governor.

The 51-year-old Democrat flipped the seat from its Republican rule for eight years, comfortably defeating Geoff Diehl, who has repeated the former president’s claims that the 2020 election was stolen.

She received more than 55 percent of the vote Tuesday night, with Diehl receiving only 38.5 percent support.

Healey’s triumph comes after Republican Gov Charlie Baker opted not to run for a third-term — and also refused to endorse Diehl.

As a result, Healey, the former attorney general, had been considered the frontrunner in the race, with polls showing her heavily favored over her Republican counterpart.

In her victory speech Tuesday night, Healey said: ‘To every little girl and every young LGBTQ person out there, I hope tonight shows you that you can be whatever, whoever you want to be.

Maura Healey, 51, became the first openly lesbian governor elected in the US Tuesday night

Healey is pictured with her longtime partner, Gabrielle Wolohojian, in an undated picture

‘To those who voted me for and to those who didn’t, I want you to know I’ll be a governor for everyone, and I’ll work with anyone who’s up for making a difference in this state,’ she continued.

‘I’ll be a governor for everyone struggling with higher costs,’ she vowed, as she also said she would ‘create great clean energy jobs.’

‘And as long as I’m governor, women will always have the right to their own bodies,’ she said of abortion rights in the state.

‘Together we’ll build a stronger Massachusetts for everyone,’ she concluded. 

Healey was elected alongside her lieutenant governor candidate, Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll. Together, they became the first all women team to serve as governor and lieutenant governor. 

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Healey is pictured dancing onto the stage after her victory Tuesday night

Healey campaigned on a long list of Democratic priorities, including expanding affordable housing, promoting green jobs and improving public transportation

Healey vowed to be a ‘governor for everyone’ upon taking office

Healey is pictured with Lt. Gov-elect Kim Driscoll. They are the all women team to serve as governor and lieutenant governor

LGBTQ groups cheered on Healey’s victory Tuesday night

Healey grew up on the New Hampshire border, with her two brothers and two sisters.

By the time she was 10, her parents split up, and she and her siblings continued to live with her mother.

At one point, she told WBUR, her mother sold her wedding ring to pave a basketball court behind their house.

‘And that’s where I think probably a lot of my basketball career took off,’ she said.

Her basketball career eventually led her to Harvard, where she was co-captain of the women’s basketball team before she decided to play professionally in Austria for two years. 

Healey’s professional career began working under then-Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, making a name for herself challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act — a 1996 law that allowed states to deny rights to same-sex married couples.

From there, she was appointed chief of the state’s Public Protection and Advocacy Bureau and then chief of the Business and Labor Bureau before she resigned to run for attorney general. 

During her time in office, Healey became a more national figure as she initiated or joined dozens of lawsuits against the Trump administration, from challenging his so-called Muslim travel ban to protecting immigrant rights and suing the EPA for delaying or rolling back environmental regulations. 

Her partner, Gabrielle Wolohojian, is also an associate justice of the Massachusetts Appeals Court. 

Maura Healey makes her way into a room full of politicians and supporters in Boston, Massachusetts on November 8, 2022

Healey is pictured greeting supporters at an Election Day dinner

For the governor race, Healey campaigned on a long list of Democratic priorities, including expanding affordable housing, promoting green jobs and improving  public transportation.

She pledged to create a cabinet-level job to oversee housing and accelerate the building of new homes, and proposed making state land available for development while offering financial help for first-time home buyers, low-income residents and the elderly. 

Healey also vowed to achieve net zero emissions in Massachusetts by 2030, while making the state a ‘hub for clean energy innovation.’ 

Upon accepting her party’s nomination for governor in June, she said: ‘Let’s put money back in people’s pockets by cutting the costs of housing, energy and health care.’

Healey was a successful basketball player, eventually becoming co-captain of the Harvard women’s basketball team

Her victory now seals her as a leader in the LGBTQ community. 

She previously told the local NPR station: ‘I’m proud of who I am,’ adding that she is especially moved when LGBTQ children in the community tell her they are comforted by her success.

‘Kids need to understand and believe that they are loved, they are seen and that they can be whoever they are.’

LGBTQ+ rights group the Human Rights Campaign hailed Healey’s historic victory.

‘Massachusetts embraced a platform of equality and inclusion by electing a pro-equality champion,’ the organization’s interim president Joni Madison, said in a statement.

The victory comes as LGBTQ candidates are running in all 50 states and Washington DC for the first time in this year’s midterm election, as the community becomes an increasingly powerful voting constituency.

Democrat Tina Kotek, who is also lesbian, was bidding to match Healey’s win in Oregon on Tuesday in a governor’s race regarded as a toss-up.

Almost 90 percent of the LGBTQ candidates who entered this year’s primary races are Democrats.

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