By Kyung Lah, CNN
(CNN) - Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders made history Tuesday night.
Thirty Asian-American candidates ran for national office, the largest number ever, up from 10 in 2010 and eight in 2008. Five new Asian-American and Pacific Islanders were elected, with one race still too close to call.
“The election of 2012 is historical in the sense of the number of AAPI candidates and the impact of AAPI voters in swing states," Floyd Mori, incoming interim president and CEO of the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies, said in a statement.
Historic number of Asian candidates
Democratic Assemblywoman Grace Meng won New York’s open seat in the 6th Congressional District to be elected to Congress. Her district, containing a large Asian-American population as well as a large Caucasian one, made this election about evolving demographics.
About 1.6 million Asian-Americans live in New York, but they have been traditionally under-represented in local politics and on the national political stage.
Meng joins Tammy Duckworth of Illinois as the first Asian-American members of Congress from their states.
Mazie Hirono also ushered in a wave of firsts, becoming the first foreign-born woman of Asian descent to be sworn into national office, the first Japanese immigrant to be elected to the U.S. Senate and the first female senator to represent Hawaii.
California Rep.-elect Mark Takano and Hawaii's Tulsi Gabbard round out the freshman class.
Ami Bera's race in California is still too close to call.
Eight Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus members were also re-elected to Congress.
The increased political representation matches the growth of Asian-Americans, now the largest group of immigrants in the U.S.. FULL POST
By Moni Basu, CNN
(CNN) - A black man is returning to the White House.
Four years ago, it was a first, the breaking of a racial barrier. Tuesday night, it was history redux.
In the midst of national splintering and a time of deep ideological animosity, Americans elected President Barack Obama to a second term. And thousands rejoiced in his victory, one that seemed sweeter and, perhaps, more significant.
"This is affirmation that his color doesn't matter and that his message resonated with people," said Yale University sociologist Jeffrey Alexander, author of "Obama's Victory and the Democratic Struggle for Power."
"It is very important in that it will indicate that an African-American can be viewed for what he says and not what he is."
Had Obama lost the election, he would likely have been remembered in history as the first black president, and maybe little else, Alexander said.
Now, he has a chance to create a legacy rooted not in his identity, but in his ideas.
By Ben Brumfield, CNN
(CNN) - For the first time, same-sex marriage has been approved by a popular vote in the United States.
Voters in Maryland and Maine passed referendums by narrow margins cementing the right for people to marry, regardless of gender.
The words man and woman "relating to the marital relationship or familial relationships must be construed to be gender-neutral for all purposes," Maine's act says. "Civil marriage laws allow gay and lesbian couples to obtain a civil marriage license," reads Maryland's.
Maryland, Maine approve same-sex marriage
Results of a vote on the same issue was still pending in Washington, as was a measure that would ban same-sex marriage in Minnesota.
By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN
(CNN) - Tammy Baldwin made history Tuesday night - twice. She became the first openly gay politician, and first Wisconsin woman, elected to the U.S. Senate.
The seven-term Democratic congresswoman edged past former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson in a win that advocacy groups hailed as a significant stride toward bringing diversity to the Senate.
"This is a big day for gay women in America, and really, for all communities who aren't the typical straight, white, wealthy men elected to Congress," political commentator Sally Kohn said.
Share your reaction to the election
There has never been an openly gay or lesbian member of the U.S. Senate, according to several LGBT advocacy groups. Baldwin is one of four openly gay House members, along with fellow Democrats Barney Frank, of Massachusetts; David Cicilline, of Rhode Island; and Jared Polis, of Colorado.
What defines you? Maybe it’s the shade of your skin, the place you grew up, the accent in your words, the make up of your family, the gender you were born with, the intimate relationships you chose to have or your generation? As the American identity changes we will be there to report it. In America is a venue for creative and timely sharing of news that explores who we are. Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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