WASHINGTON, D.C. — When the 111th Congress is sworn in today, the U.S. will have one of the most LGBT-friendly legislative membership in the nation’s history.
Pro-equality candidates were elected across the nation in November, including long-standing legislative allies who easily won re-election.
Returning openly gay Congressional leaders include Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). Colorado’s Jared Polis will join their ranks as the first openly gay man ever elected to the U.S. House.
“The promising freshman class — which includes gay Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado — is one of 2009’s potential game changers for the gay rights movement,” wrote Detroit News columnist Deb Price. “Many of the freshmen come from states that already enjoy basic gay protections. So they’ll be asked to extend those safeguards to all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. And they’ll be asked to update federal law to respect their state laws by, for example, getting rid of the discriminatory tax treatment of gay partners’ health benefits.”
According to Price, other gay-friendly freshman members include Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Colorado’s Mark Udall and New Mexico’s Tom Udall. All three will join the U.S. Senate today; the Udalls, who are cousins, move from the House to the elder body.
North Carolina’s newest senator, Kay Hagan, has a strong gay-friendly voting record during her tenure in the N.C. Senate.
Photo credit: Rob Pongsajapan