First Openly Gay Senator Talks Marriage Equality and Diversity in Congress

PHOTO: Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) spoke about youth political engagement at the Make Progress National Summit on Wednesday, July 17, 2013 in Washington, D.C.PlayGeneva Sands/Fusion
WATCH Three Questions for the First Openly Gay U.S. Senator

Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) is frequently labeled a trailblazer. In a lot of ways, that's an accurate characterization: She's the first openly gay person to serve in the Senate, and the first woman senator from Wisconsin.

But Baldwin downplays all that talk. Her goal in running last year, she says, was to "make a difference, not history."

The lawmaker called on young people to engage with the political process and help move the country "forward" during closing remarks Wednesday at the Make Progress National Youth Summit, an annual meeting convened by the Center for American Progress' newly rebranded youth arm, Generation Progress.

During an exclusive interview with Fusion following her remarks, Baldwin, a new member of the Senate Energy Committee, said young people are particularly suited to educating their peers - often through social media - on issues ranging from marriage equality to climate change.

Young people, Baldwin said, "have the most authentic voices when it comes to compelling action on climate change."

Most lawmakers won't live to see the results of their votes on issues like carbon emissions and coal power, she said. Young adults will.

Check out the video to hear the senator's thoughts on the lack of diversity in Congress, marriage equality and her status as the first openly gay member of the Senate.