Tammy Baldwin makes history as 113th Congress sworn in

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The 113th Congress was sworn in on Thursday, December 3rd during a ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. -- and Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin broke two long-standing barriers.

Baldwin made history on Thursday, January 3rd, as the first woman from Wisconsin sworn into the U.S. Senate and the first openly gay member of the U.S. Senate in American history.

This is a topic FOX6's Mike Lowe spoke with Baldwin about prior to her swearing-in.

"It was an incredible process of self discovery and one of the most freeing decisions I ever made. The fear of discrimination exists, but I found it freeing to be honest, with my family, my friends and ultimately with the voters who placed their trust in me," Baldwin said.

Baldwin served for seven terms in the House of Representatives. She defeated former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson in November.

Baldwin has said over and over again she ran for office not to make history, but to make a difference. She said she resists the label of being the "gay senator."

"The most important thing that informs my work is listening to the people I represent, people who sent me to do a job, and I will do that throughout the state of Wisconsin," Baldwin said.

Milwaukee state Rep. JoCasta Zamarripad says Baldwin is an inspiration to women and to the LGBT community. 

 "I know personally as a member of the LGBT community, personally what it means for the senator to be openly LGBT.  It means a lot to folks who identify as LGBT," Zamarripad said.

Baldwin headlines a congress with a historic number of women -- 20 in the Senate and 81 in the House. 61 of those are Democrats.