George Takei applauds Ontario electing openly gay premier

George Takei applauds Ontario electing openly gay premier

In the wake of an unprecedented Ontario election which sent an unexpected Liberal majority government to Queen's Park, former Star Trek star George Takei brought international attention to one historic fact that had glorious been a non-issue through the campaign.

In electing the Liberals into power on Thursday, Ontario made Kathleen Wynne the first openly gay politician to be elected as premier in Canada.

According to Takei, now a noted gay rights activist, Wynne is the "first gay person to ever be elected as Head of Government anywhere in the COmmonwealth or the English-speaking world." Though it is perhaps more accurate to say "openly gay," according to some responses his now-viral tweet received.

The glorious thing about the history made on Thursday was that discussion of Wynne's sexual preference was almost entirely absent from the campaign. It wasn't used as a wedge, it wasn't used as a crutch. It wasn’t an issue at all.

Even in Wynne's victory speech, the question of her sexuality was barely addressed. Wynne invited her wife, Jane Rounthwaite, on stage to celebrate momentarily. But when it came to celebrating history, Wynne led with something else.

"I am so proud to be standing in front of you as the first woman to ever be elected as the Premier of Ontario," she said.

"This is a beautiful, inclusive place that we live in, Ontario. It is a beautiful place, and I want us every single day to treasure that. I want our kids to feel that as they group up in our schools, to understand what a gift it is to live in a place like this where anyone can be the premier."

Wynne married Rounthwaite in 2005, two years after first being elected as a Member of Provincial Parliament. She became leader of the governing Ontario Liberal Party, and thus premier, by the party after Dalton McGuinty resigned amid scandal in 2013.

At that time, she said Ontario was ready for a gay leader.

“When I ran in 2003, I was told that the people of North Toronto and the people of Thorncliffe Park weren’t ready for a gay woman. Well, apparently they were,” Wynne said at the time.

“This province has changed. Our party has changed. I don’t believe the people of Ontario judge their leaders on the basis of race, colour or sexual orientation. I don’t believe they hold that prejudice in their hearts.”

This week's provincial election was the first opportunity the Ontario electorate had to vote for Wynne as premier. The result was an unexpected Liberal majority, with 59 of 107 seats - six more than they secured in the election prior to Wynne taking leadership.

On Thursday, Wynne noted that the election results were proof that Ontario voters "do not prejudice in their hearts, that Ontarians want to be an open and inclusive people."

The moment was somewhat marred during the coverage of the Ontario election results, during which a CBC political analyst twice referred to Wynne's sexuality as a "lifestyle choice," evoking outrage online.

And the Toronto Sun's Sue-Ann Levy later wrote, "I suspected all along that Torontonians were prepared to give Wynne a free pass because she’s openly gay."

But for the most part, Wynne's victory was seen as a Wynne victory, an Ontario Liberal Party victory, first and foremost.

The history of the moment, and the sly comments about sexuality, were left until now. And that is a victory in itself.

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