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social sciences

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Cicilline, David (b. 1961)  
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A deal was finally reached in March 2010, but before then the negotiations were frequently acrimonious, and the repeated threats of picketing of public events by the firefighters cost Cicilline—and probably also the city of Providence—a place in the national spotlight.

In 2004 John Edwards, the Democratic candidate for vice-president, forewent a campaign fundraiser in the city rather than cross the firefighters' picket line. Three years later Cicilline chose to withdraw as Hillary Clinton's Rhode Island campaign chairman so that an event could proceed without disruption.

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Another threatened demonstration in July 2009 caused Vice-president Joe Biden and approximately one hundred other top members of the Obama administration to cancel their plans to attend the annual meeting of the U. S. Conference of Mayors, a prestigious event that Cicilline had succeeded in winning for Providence.

While the travails with the firefighters' union were clearly an impediment to Cicilline's progress in his political career, his sexual orientation has apparently not been a significant factor.

Out to his own circle since his days at Brown, he publicly acknowledged his homosexuality in reply to a direct question from M. Charles Bakst of the Providence Journal-Bulletin in April 1999.

In a follow-up interview with Maria Miro Johnson of the same newspaper, Cicilline responded to concerns of the editors, who had been leery of including the fact of Cicilline's homosexuality in the article by Bakst: "I refused to buy into the fact that this is a really bad thing and I had to give them special dispensation" to allude to it.

In a 2009 interview published on the web site Matthew's Place, Cicilline stressed that it is vital for glbtq people to have a public presence, stating, "I think it's very important for our community because the more we stop being invisible and we are represented in important positions—where policies are made and where resources are allocated—I think the easier it will be for the next generation of [glbtq] young people to think about a career in public service." He added that openness is "also an important way to educate the non-gay and non-lesbian community about the important contributions that our community can make."

Cicilline stressed the necessity of not being a single-issue candidate when, in a 2002 interview with Mubarak Dahir of The Advocate, he recalled meeting an elderly Catholic man who was considering supporting him and even volunteering to work on his campaign but wanted to know what Cicilline's "gay agenda" was.

Cicilline's reply to the constituent was "My gay agenda is government reform, improving neighborhoods, and strengthening schools."

Cicilline called the exchange "a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate that gay people have the same dreams and desires as other citizens," adding, "That's why I always ran as a candidate who happens to be gay rather than a gay candidate. During my campaign the gay issue was irrelevant."

The last may not be entirely true since during his first run for mayor he was perceived as "not gay enough" by the Rhode Island gay group Voices 4 Equality, who criticized him for "not talking about our issues"—although he had a solid record on domestic-partner benefits and support for Rhode Island Project AIDS and was a co-sponsor of the state's glbtq rights bill.

The group endorsed one of Cicilline's opponents, former mayor Joseph Paolino, in the primary. Once Cicilline was elected, however, the organization came out in support of his administration.

Because of his success in reforming Providence, it was expected that Cicilline might run for higher office, possibly the governorship of Rhode Island. Family troubles intervened however when, in 2009, his elder brother John M. Cicilline, was sentenced to federal prison for shake-downs of drug dealers.

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