Last week, Wisconsin rep. Tammy Baldwin (D) announced she’ll be running for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Herb Kohl (D) next year. If Baldwin wins, she’ll become the first openly gay member of the Senate. About time, right? Which got us thinking, just how many openly gay and lesbian politicians are there in the collective 535 seats held in the U.S. Congress? I know, I know – we should know this stuff already. But in case you’re like us, and have been “meaning to look into it” every year – we’ve pulled the big picture together in honor of T-Bald’s bid, along with some other notable political achievements accomplished by those sporting a rainbow pin just above the flag on their lapels.
Gays and Lesbians Serving in the U.S. Congress
Wondering if there’s anybody you can root for in D.C.? Now when you happen to catch C-SPAN, you can pause to take a peek and see if you recognize a fellow team member before flipping on to The Real Housewives of Bayonne/Kansas City/Toledo.
First things first – while there are many openly gay and lesbian state legislators across the country, there are only four openly gay members in congress:
Tammy Baldwin (D) – WI served as the U.S. Representative for Wisconsin’s 2nd congressional district from 1999 – present. She recently announced her bid to become the first openly gay U.S. Senator elected to office in 2012. You can support her campaign here.
Why we love her: She’s attempting to make history, why else? Plus, according to Daily Kos, openly gay Wisconsin state Rep. Mark Pocan has already announced that he will run for Baldwin’s seat in the U.S. House, making the run a possible double victory.
How you can support her: TammyBaldwin.com of course! Our girl is also on Twitter @tammybaldwinwi.
Barney Frank (D) – MA. Everybody knows this lovable pol, right? Frank, a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts, is the most prominent gay politician in America. Elected in 1981, he became the first member of Congress to come out as gay in 1987. With the countenance of a teddy bear and a Wildean wit (in my opinion), Frank is pretty much a gavel full of awesome. Oh, and being a consistently loud and loyal defender of civil rights in America counts, too.
Why we love him: Oh, just these quotes:
“They’re (congressional opponents) saying that my ability to marry another man somehow jeopardizes heterosexual marriage. Then they go out and cheat on their wives. That doesn’t jeopardize heterosexual marriage? It’s nonsense.”
“If this is a Christian nation, how come some poor Jew has to get up at 5:30 in the morning to preside over the House of Representatives?” (referring to himself, after Rep. Marjorie Holt (R-MD), declared that “this is a Christian nation” during an all-night debate on school prayer chaired by Frank.)
“My mother says that in the 59 years since being married to my father, no one had ever called her Elsie Fag.” (In response to Texas Republican Dick Armey’s claim that, his reference to Barney Frank as “Barney Fag” was a mere mispronunciation.)
He said he was unable to complete his review of the Starr Report detailing President Bill Clinton’s relationship with Monica Lewinsky, complaining that it was “too much reading about heterosexual sex”
“We’re the only people I know who are expected to take large amounts of money from perfect strangers and have it have no effect on our behavior.”
How you can support him: BarneyFrank.net of course! Oh, I think he’s also on Twitter @repbarneyfrank, although so far he’s only tweeted once, saying, “I have now one ambition: to retire before it becomes essential to tweet.” How can you NOT love this guy!
Jared Polis (D) – CO is the U.S. Representative for Colorado’s 2nd congressional district, serving since 2009. The first openly gay male elected to Congress (Frank was not out of the closet when he was elected), Polis is also super rich. Fun fact: He founded Blue Mountain Greeting Cards. Who knew?
Why we love him: Not only does he donate to a crapload of causes, Polis launched The Fearless Campaign in 2011, an effort to empower “political leaders with the moral courage it takes to vote fearlessly on the politically charged issues of today, regardless of the perceived political risk.” The campaign is active on six issues: LGBT equality, drug policy, education reform, immigration reform, net neutrality and food policy.
How you can support him: Donate, get your yard sign, and find him on Facebook here.
David Cicilline (D) – RI is the latest arrival to the congressional scene. In 2010, he was elected as U.S. Representative for Rhode Island’s 1st congressional district. He is formerly the Mayor of Providence, Rhode Island, and was the first openly gay mayor of a U.S. state capital.
Why we love him: He introduced legislation to end tax subsidies to the Big 5 Oil Companies, he brought Providence back from the hellmouth (Providence has a colorful mayoral history – see Cianci, Buddy, the former mayor who was forced to resign after assaulting a contractor with “a lit cigarette, an ashtray, and a fireplace log.”)
How you can support him: Hit him up, or tweet him up @davidcicilline.
In this politically-themed post, we couldn’t resist mentioning these lesbian elected officials that basically kick-ass.
Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir. As Iceland’s first female Prime Minister, she also became the world’s first openly gay head of government of the modern era in 2009. Ever since, lesbian accomplishments in state governments will be known as “pulling a Sigurðardóttir”.
Lupe Valdez is the Sheriff of Dallas County, Texas. Hispanic. Woman. Lesbian. Sheriff…in Texas. Otherwise known as: Badass.
Penny Wong is an Australian Labor Party senator for South Australia and the Federal Minister for Finance and Deregulation. Wong is the first openly gay member of the Australian federal cabinet, and the first Asian-born federal minister. So, you know, she’s like, the Australian Lupe Valdez. Did I mention that her partner is expecting a baby, conceived via IVF?
Annise Parker is the mayor of Houston, TX. After she was elected in 2010, Houston became the largest city in the U.S. to elect an openly gay mayor. Plus, it’s Texas!
Christine Quinn. Quinn is an out lesbian and the current speaker of the New York City Council, one of the most powerful positions in the city government behind the mayor. Since we reside in NYC, we couldn’t help giving her a shout out.
Infamous Gay Politicans
We also couldn’t resist mentioning some of the not-so-positive gay politicians that have surfaced over the years. We’ll spare them listing their names here, but we’re basically talking about all of the Republicans with anti-gay records that have been caught with male escorts, pages, and other assorted boy toys. You know the ones.