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Record number of out LGBT lawmakers sworn into US Congress

Nick Duffy January 3, 2019
Congress: The US House of Representatives chamber in Washington, DC

The US House of Representatives chamber in Washington, DC. (Brendan Hoffman/Getty)

A record number of out gay, lesbian and bisexual lawmakers have taken their seats, as the 116th United States Congress was sworn in on Thursday.

In the US House of Representatives, newly elected LGBT+ Democrats Angie Craig (MN-2), Sharice Davids (KS-3), Katie Hill (CA-25) and Chris Pappas (NH-1) took their seats, alongside re-elected incumbents Mark Takano (CA-41), Mark Pocan (WI-2), Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) and David Cicilline (RI-1).

Meanwhile, bisexual Arizonian Kyrsten Sinema becomes the second ever out LGBT+ senator, joining re-elected Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin.

Newly-elected Senator Kyrsten Sinema
Newly-elected Senator Kyrsten Sinema (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

The cohort of 10 lawmakers elected in November is up from seven in the previous Congress.

The lawmakers are all Democrats, with no openly LGBT+ Republicans in either the House or the Senate.

Out lawmakers vow to pass LGBT discrimination protections

After a strong showing in the midterm elections, Democrats have regained control of the House, and incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi has vowed to support the group’s efforts to re-introduce the Equality Act, a federal LGBT+ anti-discrimination bill that has long been blocked by Republicans.

David Cicilline told the Washington Blade: “It’s a great privilege to be a part of that group.

“I think this year will be an opportunity for us to finally move forward on the Equality Act, which I think is the single most important piece of legislation to our community in terms of, once and for all, prohibiting discrimination against members of the LGBT community as a matter of federal law.

“I’m honoured to be the senior most member and really excited about the new colleagues that are joining this caucus.”

However, Republicans retained control of the Senate, likely hindering attempts to pass the law.

LGBT lawmakers will ‘shape debate on equality legislation’

Mayor Annise Parker of LGBTQ Victory Institute said: “A historic number of LGBTQ people will serve in the new U.S. Congress and their influence will shape the debate on equality legislation and issues moving forward.

“In the US Senate, those opposed to the Equality Act will now need to look two openly LGBTQ Senators in the eyes and tell them their lives are not worth protecting.

“In the US House, Speaker Pelosi will have eight LGBTQ Representatives to consult about how various healthcare or criminal justice reform policies uniquely affect our community.

“The relationships these LGBTQ lawmakers will build with their colleagues on Capitol Hill are transformative, and with an unprecedented number of women and people of color also joining the 116th Congress, equality issues will finally receive the attention they deserve.”

No transgender person has ever been elected to Congress.

More: Congress, Gay, lawmakers, LGBT, US

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