Meet the Record 10 Openly LGBT Members of Congress

Little by little, Congress is getting gayer. Starting in January, for the first time ever, there will be a double-digit number of out LGBT U.S. representatives and senators – 10 to be precise, and all of them are Democrats. While that number will need to at least double before it’s proportional to America’s actual percentage of LGBT citizens, it’s certainly progress.

Let’s briefly meet our LGBT members of congress:

1. CHRIS PAPPAS – NEW HAMPSHIRE 1st DISTRICT

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Openly gay Pappas won in one of the nation’s most notoriously fluctuating swing districts after Trump won the region in 2016. The restaurant owner and former state legislator celebrated the symbolism of becoming the state’s first gay congressperson by saying, “Today voters confirmed that the people of this district, of this state and of this country are so much more kind, more decent and more tolerant than our system would let you believe.”

 

2. DAVID CICILLINE – RHODE ISLAND 1st DISTRICT

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Cicilline, a gay man who co-chairs the LGBT Equality Congress, won his latest re-election bid with two-thirds of the vote. He’s spent his time in office advocating for LGBT equality in all aspects of society. “Our country was founded on the idea that everyone is equal in the eyes of the law,” said Cicilline. “There is no religious tradition that holds as a central tenet that you must deny goods or services to people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

 

3. KATIE HILL – CALIFORNIA 25th DISTRICT

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There are many reasons it was sweet for Hill to unseat the incumbent in her district, not the least of which was that she’s a bisexual woman who took down a man with a strong anti-LGBTQ voting record and family history of supporting Proposition 8, the same-sex marriage ban.

Hill is married to a man, so some urged her to keep her sexuality private for the sake of the election, but having been out since she was a teenager, she knew acknowledging it was important in order to be “an honest, transparent politician.” As for those who said she tried to turn it into a topic of discussion for voters, Hill responded, “I’m not making it an issue, it’s just who I am.”

 

4. KYRSTEN SINEMA – ARIZONA

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The vote count was so tight that it took a week to settle a winner, but Sinema was ultimately declared the victor, becoming Arizona’s first Democratic senator in a quarter century and the first bisexual U.S. senator ever.

Sinema isn’t a fan of journalists who try to frame her outlook as something that stems from her sexuality. “I don’t think religion or my orientation shaped my worldview,” she said. “They’re parts of who I am, but they’re not driving the force.” Instead, she credits growing up in poverty as more influential on her politics – and given the massive wealth inequality in this country, that’s an important perspective to have!

 

5. SHARICE DAVIDS – KANSAS 3rd DISTRICT

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The former MMA fighter isn’t just first Kansas’s first out LGBT legislator, she’s also the nation’s first (along with Deb Haaland) Native American woman elected to U.S. Congress. She acknowledges she’s faced some discrimination in her life, like when she wasn’t able to find a place to live with her partner due to her same-sex relationship – the Fair Housing Act still doesn’t protect on the basis of sexual orientation in some states.

That experience motivated her to enter politics in the first place. “I thought, ‘We need more people who have experiences like I do,’” she said, adding that she feels a responsibility to consider how proposed legislation affects “varieties of communities.”

 

6. MARK TAKANO – CALIFORNIA 41st DISTRICT

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The only Asian-American LGBT congressperson, Takano actively works to pass legislation to end discriminatory practices. “In spite of the progress we’ve made toward LGBT equality, it is still possible for LGBT employees to get married on Saturday, post pictures on Sunday and be fired on Monday because of who they love,” he said. “I will continue to push my colleagues to pass the Equality Act, which ensures that every LGBT employee is guaranteed equal protection under the law.”

 

7. TAMMY BALDWIN – WISCONSIN

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Back in 2012, Baldwin became the first openly gay person in all of the U.S. Senate. Polls found her sexual orientation was a “nonissue” with voters and continued to be in 2018 when she won re-election. Prior to becoming a politician, Baldwin had a same-sex partner of fifteen years.

While Baldwin is proud that she’s a part of the reason the Senate is becoming “more reflective of America,” she’s not letting her trailblazer status define her service. “I didn’t run to make history, I ran to make a difference,” she explained.

 

8. MARK POCAN – WISCONSIN 2nd DISTRICT

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Pocan, Wisconsin’s other LGBT legislator, was first elected to office in 2012. Shortly thereafter, his husband Phil became the first LGBT partner to receive the official Congressional spousal ID.

Pocan was motivated to run for political office to make a difference after being beaten with a baseball bat by homophobes. “As we reflect on the journey we’ve traveled – the struggles, the sacrifices, the stories of love and loss that have defined a decades-long crusade for justice – we recognize the tremendous progress that we’ve achieved, and look ahead to the obstacles that remain on our path toward full equality,” Pocan said.

 

9. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY – NEW YORK 18th DISTRICT

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New York’s first openly gay congressperson won re-election this term by a solid margin. While in office, he’s advocated on behalf of his fellow LGBT Americans by introducing the LGBT PRIDE Act bill, designed to research and take action against violence directed at the queer community. “Anti-LGBTQ violence is way too common – it happens when a trans woman of color is gunned down in the street, it happens when a young gay person is bullied into depression or takes his own life,” said Rep. Maloney.

 

10. ANGIE CRAIG – MINNESOTA 2nd DISTRICT

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During the campaign, Craig’s Republican opponent tried to use her sexual orientation against her, sending out material with the intent of scaring more traditional voters away from casting their ballots for a woman married to another woman and raising four sons. Fortunately, that bigoted approach didn’t work, and Craig turned a red seat blue.

Years ago, Craig and her partner nearly lost their adopted son in a prolonged custody battle because of their same-sex relationship. She credits that difficult experience with “formulat[ing] the rest of [her] life and career,” now striving to vigorously defend others who face discriminatory obstacles.

Photo Credits: Kenneth C. Zirkel, WisPolitics.com,Daniel Case,

42 comments

Louise R
Louise R6 hours ago

Thanks

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Dr. Jan H
Dr. Jan H3 days ago

thanks

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Shae Lee
Shae L4 days ago

Thank you.

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Anna R
Anna R7 days ago

thanks very much

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Martin H
Martin H7 days ago

Important development.

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Lesa D
Lesa D8 days ago

WELCOME TO ALL!

thank you Kevin...

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FOTINI H

Times has changed :)

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Caitlin L
Caitlin L9 days ago

thank you

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Dave fleming
Past Member 9 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Greta L
Greta L10 days ago

tyfs

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