Entries from: David Cicilline

Congress gains fourth openly gay member today

cicilline victoryAt noon today in Washington, David Cicilline becomes “Congressman David Cicilline,” and just the seventh openly gay American to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives.  Reps. Barney Frank, Tammy Baldwin and Jared Polis, all of whom were reelected in November, will also be sworn in to serve in the 112th Congress.  All four are Democrats.

The former mayor of Providence, R.I., Cicilline is just the third openly gay candidate to be elected to Congress as a freshman.  Baldwin became the first in 1998, and Polis was second in 2008.  All other openly gay members of Congress came out while in office, including Frank, the late Rep. Gerry Studds, and former Reps. Jim Kolbe and Steve Gunderson.

“This is an historic day for LGBT Americans, and another step toward a government that truly reflects our country’s diversity,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, which endorsed Cicilline.

More than 500 openly LGBT officeholders serve at all levels of government in the U.S., up from just 49 when the Victory Fund was founded in 1991.

Victory Fund CEO, candidates among 2010 “Out 100″

52-Cicilline-Wolfe-Medina-AdamsVictory Fund president and CEO Chuck Wolfe is listed among OUT Magazine’s “Out 100″ for 2010, as are a number of LGBT public officials.  The LGBT culture magazine calls the group, “The one hundred most compelling people of 2010.”

“As the president and CEO of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and Leadership Institute, Chuck Wolfe oversees the organization’s identification, training, and support of LGBT political candidates, campaign staff, and public officials, including the 164 candidates the fund endorsed in 2010,” the magazine writes.

Also making the 2010 list:  Congressman-elect David Cicilline, the openly gay mayor of Providence, R.I.;  Speaker Christine Quinn of the New York City Council, who is openly lesbian; and D.C. Superior Court Judge Marisa Demeo, an out lesbian appointed by President Barack Obama.

Chris Armstrong, the openly gay student president of the University of Michigan and a former Victory Fund intern, is also among the magazine’s “Out 100.”

Photo:  Jason Schmidt/OUT Magazine

Record number of LGBT candidates elected to office

The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund today announced that more openly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) candidates won election to public office in the U.S. in 2010 than in any year in America’s history. At least 106 of the group’s record-breaking 164 endorsed candidates were winners as of Wednesday morning, including Providence, R.I., Mayor David Cicilline, who will become the fourth openly gay Member of Congress when the House convenes in January.
Victory Fund President and CEO issued the following statement about the group’s success:
“There is no sugar-coating the loss of so many of our straight allies in Congress, but we can be proud that our community continues to expand its voice at all levels of government in America. Out public officials are having a sizable impact on the local, state and national debates about LGBT equality.  Increasing their numbers is a vital part of a long-term strategy to change America’s politics and make our country freer and fairer for everyone.  We will continue to focus on training committed, qualified candidates, and we will work hard to get them elected to public office.”
Important 2010 election results include:
–David Cicilline’s election to Congress.  The Providence, R.I. mayor will be the fourth openly gay member of the U.S. House of Representatives, joining Reps. Tammy Baldwin, Barney Frank and Jared Polis, who each won reelection.
–Jim Gray’s election as mayor of Lexington, Kentucky’s second-largest city.
–Nickie Antonio’s election to the Ohio House.  Antonio will be the first openly LGBT person to serve in the state legislature.
–Marcus Brandon’s election to the North Carolina House.  Brandon will be the state’s only openly gay state legislator and one of just five out African Americans to serve as state lawmakers.
–Victoria Kolakowski’s election as a Superior Court judge in Alameda County.  Kolakowski becomes the first openly transgender judge in America.
–Kevin Lembo’s election as Connecticut State Comptroller.  Lembo joins just a handful of openly LGBT candidates to have been elected to statewide positions.
–Laurie Jinkins’ election to the Washington State House.  Jinkins is Washington’s first openly lesbian state legislator, and could help her gay colleagues pass a marriage equality bill in the next legislative session.
–Maryland’s and California’s expanded LGBT state legislative caucuses.  Each will include seven openly gay and lesbian lawmakers.  In Maryland, the caucus is poised to help pass marriage equality legislation, which the reelected Gov. Martin O’Malley has vowed to sign.
–Dan Hill’s loss in his Nevada House race.  The Victory Fund’s endorsed Republican candidates for state legislative seats were not successful, meaning no openly LGBT Republicans will be serving as state lawmakers next year.
The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund is the only national organization dedicated to increasing the number of openly LGBT elected officials at all levels of government in the U.S.  It has grown that number from 49 to more than 500 since its founding in 1991.  A full 2010 Election Scorecard will soon be available at www.victoryfund.org.

Rhode Island PrimaryThe Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund today announced that more openly LGBT candidates won election to public office in the U.S. in 2010 than in any year in America’s history.

At least 106 of the group’s record-breaking 164 endorsed candidates were winners as of Wednesday morning, including Providence, R.I., Mayor David Cicilline (pictured), who will become the fourth openly gay Member of Congress when the House convenes in January.

Victory Fund President and CEO Chuck Wolfe issued the following statement about the group’s success:

“There is no sugar-coating the loss of so many of our straight allies in Congress, but we can be proud that our community continues to expand its voice at all levels of government in America. Out public officials are having a sizable impact on the local, state and national debates about LGBT equality.  Increasing their numbers is a vital part of a long-term strategy to change America’s politics and make our country freer and fairer for everyone.  We will continue to focus on training committed, qualified candidates, and we will work hard to get them elected to public office.”

Important 2010 election results include:

–David Cicilline’s election to Congress.  The Providence, R.I. mayor will be the fourth openly gay member of the U.S. House of Representatives, joining Reps. Tammy Baldwin, Barney Frank and Jared Polis, who each won reelection.

–Jim Gray’s election as mayor of Lexington, Kentucky, the state’s second-largest city.

–Nickie Antonio’s election to the Ohio House.  Antonio will be the first openly LGBT person to serve in the state legislature.

–Marcus Brandon’s election to the North Carolina House.  Brandon will be the state’s only openly gay state legislator and one of just five out African Americans to serve as state lawmakers.

–Victoria Kolakowski’s election as a Superior Court judge in Alameda County.  Kolakowski becomes the first openly transgender judge in America.

–Kevin Lembo’s election as Connecticut State Comptroller.  Lembo joins just a handful of openly LGBT candidates to have been elected to statewide positions.

–Laurie Jinkins’ election to the Washington State House.  Jinkins is Washington’s first openly lesbian state legislator, and could help her gay colleagues pass a marriage equality bill in the next legislative session.

–Maryland’s and California’s expanded LGBT state legislative caucuses.  Each will include seven openly gay and lesbian lawmakers.  In Maryland, the caucus is poised to help pass marriage equality legislation, which the reelected Gov. Martin O’Malley has vowed to sign.

–Dan Hill’s loss in his Nevada House race.  The Victory Fund’s endorsed Republican candidates for state legislative seats were not successful, meaning no openly LGBT Republicans will be serving as state lawmakers next year.

The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund is the only national organization dedicated to increasing the number of openly LGBT elected officials at all levels of government in the U.S.  It has grown that number from 49 to more than 500 since its founding in 1991.  A full 2010 Election Scorecard will soon be available at www.victoryfund.org.

Advancing Equality in the 112th Congress

The following commentary by Providence, R.I., Mayor David Cicilline was originally posted at The Bilerico Project.

Cicilline_Kingsley-smallNumbers don’t lie.

Right now, there are only three openly gay members in the U.S. House of Representatives. That means that out of the 435 seats in the House, less than 1% are held by openly gay men or women.

As the first openly gay mayor of a U.S. state capital, I know all too well how hard each of us has to fight every day for our voices to be heard.

But with such a limited influence in Congress, it’s easy for those voices to be drowned out. Remember, it was only four years ago that conservative Washington Republicans tried to amend the Constitution to ban marriage equality with the full support of the sitting President.

But we’ve made progress as a community since that time and, on November 2nd, we have a chance to make our voices heard a little clearer if I win my campaign to succeed Congressman Patrick Kennedy in Rhode Island’s First Congressional District.

Right now, there are several initiatives before Congress that would promote equality for the LGBT community but have not yet been enacted. A greater level of LGBT representation in the 112th Congress would make it easier to pass the types of laws that will ensure a level playing field for members of our community.

For example, the Respect for Marriage Act will repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which had defined marriage as being between a man and a woman and was recently overturned as unconstitutional by a U.S. District Court judge. The new law will ensure that federal benefits continue for same-sex couples even if they move to a state that has not yet recognized marriage equality.

In addition, the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act will provide the same benefits to gay and lesbian partners of federal civilian employees as are already provided to employees with opposite-sex spouses. In Congress, I will work with my colleagues to pass these bills into law and ensure that members of our community are able to achieve full marriage equality.

Congress must also act to ensure that LGBT Americans are protected from employment discrimination. Remarkably, there is no federal law that does this right now. Workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation remains legal in 29 states and 38 states do not protect against discrimination based on gender identity or expression.

In Congress, I will advocate vigorously for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) to ban workplace discrimination in America and ensure that no one can ever be fired because of their sexual orientation. ENDA will extend federal employment discrimination protections currently provided based on race, religion, sex, national origin, age and disability to sexual orientation and gender identity to guarantee that gay Americans have a fair chance at professional success.

Lastly, we have to do everything we can to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” DADT was a bad policy when it was enacted and it’s a bad policy today. It has hurt far too many honorable veterans who wanted to serve their country. We should be honoring the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, not casting them aside because of an unfair, prejudicial policy. A federal judge recently struck down DADT as unconstitutional, but since the ruling is under appeal, I believe we must continue the work to reverse this policy through legislation. In Congress, I will vigorously advocate for the Military Readiness Enhancement Act to replace the current policy and guarantee that gay Americans can openly serve their country.

The struggle for full equality is never easy. Our community has struggled for years both against prejudice and political opportunists who saw our basic freedoms as nothing more than “wedge issues” to divide voters. We’ve come a long way in just the past few years, but there is still a lot of work to be done. If I am fortunate enough to succeed Patrick Kennedy in Congress, I will fight hard every single day to ensure full equality for the men and women of the LGBT community.

Yes, the list is long and many might see the arduous task ahead as impossible. But this is America – we have met the challenge of every generation and we will solve these problems as well. It won’t be easy. But in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

I’m excited about the challenges ahead and beginning the work that must be done. I hope you will take some time to learn more about my campaign for Congress – you can visit http://www.cicilline.com or click here to make a small contribution and help me fight for our cause in Congress.

A very good night for LGBT candidates

CicillinevictoryAfter Tuesday’s primaries, we’re one giant step closer to adding a fourth openly gay member of Congress.  But that’s not the whole story of last night.  Out candidates advanced in races across the country, setting up the possibility of an historic year in gay politics.

Providence Mayor David Cicilline won his Democratic primary to represent the Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District in the U.S. House, a key test in a very blue state.  Still, he’s not measuring for drapes in a Capitol Hill office just yet.

Cicilline sent the following message last night when he learned he’d won his primary:

“I’m very grateful that the Victory Fund and their supporters believe in this campaign, and I thank you for your hard work on our behalf.  Together we really can change politics in Rhode Island and across the country, and make sure that all Americans have a voice in their government.  I hope you’ll continue to stand with us as we work hard for a big victory this November.”

In all, 29 of the Victory Fund’s 33 openly LGBT candidates with primaries Tuesday night advanced, and many of those have only token opposition this fall.

Other highlights:

–The Maryland House of Delegates is set to welcome three new gay and lesbian members, bringing the total number of out Maryland state lawmakers to 7.  This could have an enormous impact on the fight to bring marriage equality to the state.  Gov. Martin O’Malley earlier this month pledged to sign a marriage equality bill if the state legislature is able to pass one.

–Among the winners in Maryland is Mary Washington, who is on track to becoming just the second openly lesbian African-American to be elected to a state legislature anywhere in America.  Her Baltimore district will likely have two lesbian representatives in the House of Delegates.  Incumbent Maggie McIntosh also won her primary.

Harry Bronson could become the sixth openly LGBT member of the New York state legislature.  Bronson won the Democratic primary in his Rochester-area district.  He would be the only out Assembly member from upstate New York if he wins the general election this fall.