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Six Members in Congress Openly Gay

Saturday, 26 Jan 2013 12:04 PM

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The 113th Congress has six openly gay or bisexual members in the House of Representatives, and advocates say it is a small but real number that implies attitudes are changing.

The Senate  has its first lesbian, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin. The lawmakers’ partners, no longer relegated to the shadows or introduced generically as “friends,” stood beside them on the House floor when they were sworn in this month, reports The New York Times.

This week, President Obama insisted on equality for “our gay brothers and sisters,” in his inauguration speech, words few expected to hear in the near future.

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Most of these members -- all Democrats -- say the signs are good that they can help colleagues and the nation rethink gay rights, but even with a relatively warm reception there are still setbacks, the Times wrote. One of the first acts of the Republican-controlled House was to set aside funds to defend the 1996 law that prohibits the recognition of same-sex marriages.

“It’s becoming — ever so slowly — more than a novelty to be a gay member of Congress,” said Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island.

Representative Jared Polis of Colorado observed that it was not too long ago “when it was just Barney and Tammy," a reference to Baldwin, a member of the House before she was elected to the Senate, and Barney Frank of Massachusetts.

“But with six of us” in the House, “it’s harder to keep track. And it’s always going to be assumed that there are gays and lesbians in the room,” added Polis, who has a young son with his partner and is the most senior gay member of the House.

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