First Buddhist Elected To US Senate – First Hindu Elected To House of Representatives

The United States Senate has had a long reputation as a “boys club,” not very accommodating for anything outside of the traditional white male Christian member. The first Jewish member was Democrat David Levy Yulee from Florida in 1845. The first atheist member was Democrat Thomas Gore of Oklahoma in 1907. The first woman was Democrat Rebecca Latimer Felton of Georgia in 1922. The first black Senator was Republican Hiram Revels of Mississippi in 1870.

This January, a new first, as Mazie Hirono of Hawaii is sworn in as the first Buddhist Senator. Born in Japan, her family immigrated to the United States when she was 8, making her, also, the first person born in that country to join the higher house of Congress.

Replacing her for Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District in the House of Representatives will be Tulsi Gabbard, a Captain in the Hawaiian National Guard. Congresswoman-elect Gabbard will also become the first Hindu voted to Congress. Born in American Samoa, Captain Gabbard brings with her a life of public service, serving on the Honolulu city council, the Hawaii state Senate, and volunteering for two tours of duty in the Middle East.

The United States Congress is slowly changing to reflect the people which it serves. It is a sign of the demographic shift in America. And it is a symbol of the future.

America, the melting pot, is growing a little bit stronger today.