Update: JoCasta Zamarripa defeated challenger Laura Manriquez in the Democratic primary on August 14, 2012 by 66.7% to 33.3%. No Republican has filed to run for this seat for the general election which takes place on 6 November 2012, so it seems all but certain that Representative Zamarripa will go on to fill a 2nd term.
Wisconsin State Representative JoCasta Zamarripa, a Latina of Mexican-American descent has joined a growing list of out bisexual-identified LGBTQ politicians when she came out in an interview with Georgia Pabst in her “Latino Connection“ blog in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
State Rep. Zamarripa (known to her friends as Joey) was born and raised on the south side of Milwaukee. In fact, she continues to live in the house that has been owned by her grandmother for over 30 years. She is a graduate of St. Joan Antida High School and holds a BFA from UW-Milwaukee. Prior to her election Zamarripa worked as a Community Outreach Coordinator for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin. She served as Board Secretary for 9 to 5 Milwaukee and was a Board Member for Equality Wisconsin.
She was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly in 2010 from the 8th Assembly District a a densely Hispanic area on on Milwaukee’s south side, where she succeed Pedro Colón, who is now a Milwaukee County Circuit Court judge.
Zamarripa faces one Democratic primary challenger, Laura Manriquez in her bid for a second term but no Republican opposition The Wisconsin primaries were changed from early September to August 14 ostesibly to accommodate military voters. But as noted in a piece by Lisa Kaiser, “that change could decrease turnout, since many Wisconsinites will be on vacation and perhaps will not be paying attention to the primaries.has an open primary and doesn’t limit primary voting to party members.” Additionally she notes that “Assembly District 8 … is one of the districts that the Republicans had drawn to weaken the power of Hispanic voters, but the court-ordered revised district is in line with federal law and is much fairer to Hispanics.”
Zamarripa acknowledged that her personal life could be used as a wedge issue. But said that her primary reason for not coming out until now was a familiar one.
She said as a young woman in her 20s, she didn’t even feel safe enough to write about her bisexuality in her personal journal. “When Ellen (DeGeneres) came out that was when I felt I could write in my journal about it,” she said.
It’s also more difficult to come out as the “B” in the LGBT acronym, which stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, she said. “It’s tough for people to wrap their minds around that, but it is a reality and the truth.”
In an interview with the Journal Sentinel, she said that it had always been her intent to come out publicly, but the timing has been a personal decision.
“It has always been my goal in office to be transparent and honest with my constituents,” she said. But before the primary in 2010, I didn’t have the valor and courage to come out,” she said. “I feel remiss that I didn’t come out then.”
She added that another reason to be public about her bisexual orientation was because of what it might mean to other young people who are struggling with their identity.
In coming out Zamarripa, the only Hispanic in the Wisconsin Legislature joins two other LGBT members Sen. Tim Carpenter (D–Milwaukee) and Rep. Mark Pocan (D–Madison).