Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) announced Tuesday that he is engaged to his long-term, same-sex partner. Maloney, 47, became engaged to his partner of 21 years, Randy Florke, on Christmas Day. They have three children together. The announcement will make Maloney the second-ever sitting congressman to marry a same-sex partner. The New York congressman, who represents the state's Hudson Valley region, is openly gay, but was beaten to the history books by former Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank. Frank married his long-time partner Jim Ready shortly before retiring in 2012.
New York is one of 17 states and the District of Columbia that has legalized gay marriage. While more states are now recognizing same-sex marriage and public opinion continues to show support (half of all Americans now support same-sex marriage), the number of LGBT-identifying politicians remains staggeringly low. There are only six openly gay or bisexual members of the 113th Congress. Together, they make up seven out of 535 House and Senate seats, putting a whole new spin on label of 'the one percent.'
Take a look at the other six openly-gay congresspeople and senators. Perhaps by the next election, there will be a few more politicians to click through.
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The Democratic senator from Wisconsin is the first lesbian elected to the Senate. She previously served as a U.S. representative in Wisconsin for 14 years. In September, she introduced a bipartisan bill to extend benefits to domestic partners of federal employees to mirror those received by legally married spouses. In 2008, then-Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) had to intervene to allow Baldwin’s then-partner, Lauren Azar, on a military flight to accompany her to Europe.
The Democratic congressman from California told the New York Times that he was called a “homosexual liberal” and a “nutzoid” when he ran for Congress in the 1990s. Now, he says he gets photos requests from construction workers — quite the change from just a couple of decades ago. Not only is the Japanese-American the first openly gay person of color in congress, but he also created some amazing memes trolling Sen. Ted Cruz during the government shutdown, referencing both Kanye West and Breaking Bad. Truly the Internet’s politician.
Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema represents Arizona’s ninth district and is the first openly bisexual person elected to Congress. She has supported the DREAM Act in a state that has notoriously harsh laws against immigrants, and is also open about having no religious affiliation. Sinema is, remarkably, the first active member of Congress to complete the Ironman triathalon, which she took part in last November. The rest of them must be using the congressional gym?
Before he became a Democratic congressman for Rhode Island, David Cicilline was the first openly gay mayor of a U.S. state capital as the leader of Providence, R.I. In a video discussing his sexuality, Ciclline calls it “irrelevant,” but encourages the media to discuss it. During the government shutdown in October, he said what everyone was thinking when he suggested lobbyists should just go away during those tumultuous couple of weeks.
Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) recently made history after he was able to secure a congressional ID card for his spouse, Philip Frank. Pocan, who was elected to fill Tammy Baldwin’s House seat following her election to Congress, told the New York Times that at a meeting for newly-elected members of Congress, he was approached by a Christian organization to see if he wanted to attend a prayer group. They asked Pocan if his wife came with him; he told him that his husband did. “Then she said, ‘Well, we have more offices to go to now,’ ” Pocan recalled.
Besides his day job as a Democratic congressional representative for Colorado, Rep. Jared Polis is an entrepreneur and philanthropist. He is one of the wealthiest members of Congress, with an estimated net worth of $72 million, gleaned from the family greeting card and publishing company. Polis’ partner, Marlon Reis, with whom he has a son, tried to get a congressional spousal ID, but was told he should actually be given a Designee ID, meant for unmarried partners of congressional members.