Healey is the state’s attorney general, and Diehl is a former state representative who co-chaired former President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign in Massachusetts.
Addressing her supporters at a victory rally in Boston on Tuesday evening, Healey dedicated her win 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,” she said to a roaring crowd. “And nothing and no one can ever get in your way except your own imagination, and that’s not going to happen.”
Healey’s win was a long-awaited victory for LGBTQ advocates who have been trying to elect a lesbian to the highest office in state government for decades.
Annise Parker, the president and CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, which helps queer candidates get elected to public office, said Healey’s historic win will help send a message that “LGBTQ people have a place in American society and can become respected public leaders.”
“We are confident that under Maura’s leadership, Massachusetts will reach new heights as one of the most inclusive states in the country,” Parker said in a statement.
Healey will follow two other out LGBTQ Democrats who have been elected to lead their states: Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, who is bisexual, became the first openly LGBTQ person to be elected governor in 2015, and Colorado Gov. Jared Polis became the first openly gay man to be elected governor in 2018. (Former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey was not out when he was elected to office in 2001; he came out as gay in his 2004 resignation speech.)
One other LGBTQ Democrat, out lesbian Tina Kotek, could join Healey in her history-making feat. Kotek is in a competitive three-way gubernatorial race in Oregon.
Healey’s victory with running mate Kim Driscoll will also mark the first time in U.S. history that women will serve as both governor and lieutenant governor of a state, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the projected winner of Arkansas’ gubernatorial race, is poised to join Healey in this historic feat, as the two candidates in Arkansas’ lieutenant governor’s race are both women.
Healey is no stranger to shattering glass ceilings for LGBTQ Americans.
In 2009, Healey led the country’s first successful challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 law that prohibited federal recognition of same-sex marriages. And in 2014, she broke barriers again, becoming the country’s first out lesbian to be elected state attorney general.