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Popular Topics in Social Sciences
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Congratulations to Sean Patrick Maloney and Randy Florke
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 06/23/14
Last updated on: 06/23/14
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Congratulations to Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney and his long-time partner Randy Florke, who were married at the Episcopal Church of St. Mary-in-the-Highlands in Cold Spring, New York on June 21, 2014.

According to CBS News, Florke, a designer and businessman, proposed in December after the youngest of their three children wrote to Santa wishing for her parents to be married. The couple had earlier decided to marry only when marriage equality had been achieved nationwide.

Maloney, who represents the lower Hudson Valley region, is New York's first openly gay Congressman and now becomes, along with Representative Mark Pocan, the second currently serving member of Congress to be married to a same-sex partner. (Former Congressmen Gerry Studds and Barney Frank also married same-sex partners, though in Studds' case after he left Congress.) Congressman Jared Polis and his partner Marlon Reis have announced that they will not marry until their home state, Colorado, achieves marriage equality.

As Linda Rapp reported in her glbtq.com entry on Maloney, he and Florke have been together since 1992, when Maloney, an operative with the Clinton presidential campaign in New York City to help with the planning of the Democratic convention, met the designer, who was then working for decorator Juan Pablo Molyneux.

The couple established a household, and a third member soon joined it. The grandson of Molyneux's chauffeur was in need of a stable environment since the boy's parents were addicted to drugs. Maloney and Florke opened their home and their hearts to the child, named Jesús, and, following the death of his mother, adopted him.

Maloney later recalled to Penelope Green of the New York Times that a friend had asked him, "Shouldn't you tell your parents you're gay before you adopt a child with another man?"

Maloney stated that he felt that "Jesús made it easier" for him to come out to his mother and father because it created "some common ground" for them all.

"Whatever their fears and preconceived notions were about what it meant to be gay had to be integrated with the healthy family they saw us creating," he declared to Green.

The family continued to grow as Maloney and Florke subsequently welcomed adopted daughters Daley and Essie.

In 2012, Maloney declared his candidacy for the United State House of Representatives in the 18th Congressional District of New York. After a victory in the Democratic primary, when he won 48% of the vote against four other candidates, he faced incumbent Republican Nan Hayworth in the general election.

Maloney's homosexuality proved not to be a significant issue in the campaign. Although Hayworth had some Tea Party connections, she is the mother of an openly gay man, and she received endorsements from the Log Cabin Republicans and GOProud, as well as from American Unity PAC, the group founded by billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Singer to support pro-equality Republicans.

Maloney was endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign and the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, as well as the New York Times. He also received support from his former boss Bill Clinton and from Andrew Cuomo, by then the governor of the state, and a strong glbtq ally who had helped to bring marriage equality to New York.

Maloney and Hayworth both supported passage of the Employment Non-discrimination Act, but Hayworth refused to endorse equal marriage.

In 2012, when marriage equality for the first time was supported by a majority of American voters, Maloney attempted to make the race in part a referendum on the issue. For fear of losing the support of New York's Conservative Party, which endorses only candidates opposed to equal marriage rights, Hayworth refused to go any further than to state that she considered same-sex marriage a settled question in New York law. Maloney, however, pointed out that her campaign manager resigned his position as a marriage officiant because he refused to conduct same-sex marriages.

While Maloney stressed his commitment to achieving "full equality under federal law" for glbtq citizens, he also said that he is not a single-issue politician and that "[t]he people in my district are a lot more concerned about why my opponent wants to end Medicare than who I love."

Maloney won the race with 52% of the vote.

Following his victory, Maloney issued a statement saying "I'm headed to Congress fired up and ready to make this country a place where the words 'equality' and 'opportunity' carry serious weight."

On June 26, 2013, when the Supreme Court of the United States declared the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, Maloney choked back tears as he explained the effect the Court's decision had for his and other gay and lesbian families.

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