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November 5, 2010

Congress will now have four open gay or lesbian members

Providence, R.I.--The mayor of the Rhode Island capital is now going to be the fourth openly gay or lesbian member of Congress.

Democrat David Cicilline took retiring Rep. Patrick Kennedy’s seat, and will join Barney Frank of Massachusetts, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Jared Polis of Colorado in the House of Representatives.

Despite Republicans’ view that taking the seat was a top priority, their candidate, State Rep. John Loughlin, had less name recognition than the eight-year mayor, and also trailed behind in fundraising. The national Republican machinery also failed to buy ads on TV for their candidate.

Cicilline won by six percent, leading Loughlin 44.6 to 50.6%.

Another gay mayor hoping to jump to the House of Representatives, Steve Pougnet of Palm Springs, California, was defeated by incumbent Rep. Mary Bono Mack, the widow of Sonny Bono who inherited his seat but has since been re-elected five times.

In the Bluegrass State, Jim Gray became the first openly gay mayor in Kentucky history, moving from being the vice-mayor of Lexington to taking the city’s top post.

Iowa voters, however, ousted three state Supreme Court justices after a campaign targeting them for their decision legalizing same-sex marriage in the state.

Bob Vander Plaats and Iowa for Freedom said that the judges overstepped their powers by trumping the voters’ wishes. The National Organization for Marriage was heavily involved in the campaign, spending $600,000 on television ads.

The Victory Fund, a national organization dedicated to nurturing and electing qualified LGBT candidates, pointed to other elections around the nation to claim a record number of gay and lesbian candidates winning office.

Kevin Lembo, for instance, won his race to become the Connecticut state comptroller, putting him among the few gay people elected to statewide office in the nation.

Laurie Jinkins of Washington, Marcus Brandon of North Carolina, Patricia Todd in Alabama, Kathy Webb and Jack Jackson, Jr. of Arizona, Ricardo Lara in California, Lucia Guzman in Colorado, Simone Bell and Karla Drenner in Georgia,  Matt McCoy in Iowa,  Stan Rosenberg and Carl Sciortino of Massachusetts, and Heather Mizeur and Mary Washington of Maryland all won races for their states’ legislatures, as did Scott Dibble in Minnesota, Jeanette Mott Oxford and Michael Colona of Missouri, Diana Sands of Montana, Frank Ferri, Gordon Fox and Deb Ruggiero in Rhode Island, Jason Lorber and Suzi Wizowaty of Vermont and Cathy Connolly in Wyoming.

Those are in addition to Nickie Antonio, Ohio’s first out state legislator, and other local officials elected across the nation.

None of the Republicans endorsed by the Victory Fund for state legislative races were successful.

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