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social sciences

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Cicilline, David (b. 1961)  
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Despite the distraction of this family drama, Cicilline ran a successful race to represent the people of the First Congressional District of Rhode Island in the U. S. House in 2010, winning by a margin of 51 to 46 percent over his Republican opponent.

Again he ran as a candidate who happened to be gay rather than as a gay candidate. However, he did not back away from gay issues. He included a section on glbtq rights on his official campaign website, where he declared "Ending discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered community remains one of the most important civil rights issues of our time."

Sponsor Message.

Not only did he pledge to support a gender-inclusive non-discrimination bill and the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, but he also unambiguously endorsed marriage equality. Moreover, in August 2010, when Judge Vaughn Walker issued his decision declaring California's Proposition 8 unconstitutional, Cicilline hailed the decision as an important step toward equal rights.

Even before his victory in that campaign, Cicilline commented to Steve Peoples of Roll Call, "to the extent that qualified good candidates who happen to be gay or lesbian are elected to positions of responsibility in government, and do a good job, I think that it is good not only for them and the LGBT community, but good for society because good, qualified people are in office, and . . . any time that happens, it is one more step toward equality."

As the 2012 general election approached, Cicilline found himself in a contested primary battle in September. He prevailed over challenger Anthony Gemma, but the cost of that contest left him with fewer funds for the November race against his Republican opponent, Brendan Doherty, and with depressed approval ratings in the polls.

The campaign became what Michelle R. Smith described as "one of the ugliest races in Rhode Island in years." Attack ads put out by the Republicans included ones that called attention to some of the more unsavory clients that Cicilline had represented in his years as a criminal defense attorney.

On November 1, 2012, polls showed the race to be "a statistical dead heat" according to Randal Edgar of the Providence Journal. The Republicans, thinking that they might be able to pick up a Congressional seat from a heavily Democratic state rush more money into the state to finance more attack ads.

With support from the national Democratic Party, including a radio ad in which former President Bill Clinton stated his support for Cicilline, the congressman worked to counter the negative ads, and on election day he succeeded in retaining his seat in the House, defeating Doherty by an impressive margin of 53 to 41%.

Linda Rapp

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social sciences >> Overview:  Domestic Partnerships

"Domestic partnership" is the generic term for a variety of forms of legal and institutional recognition of same-sex couples that fall short of same-sex marriage.

social sciences >> Overview:  Elected Officials

In the United States, glbtq candidates have achieved some significant successes at the ballot box in the last three decades, running for and winning local, state, and national elections.

social sciences >> Overview:  Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon is home to a thriving and increasingly visible queer community that has provided leadership for Oregon glbtq activism since the 1960s.

social sciences >> Baldwin, Tammy

The first out lesbian elected to the United States Congress, Democratic legislator Tammy Baldwin has been a strong supporter of glbtq rights, but she is far from a one-issue politician.

social sciences >> Don't Ask, Don't Tell

The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, in effect from 1993 until 2011, was a compromise intended to end discrimination against gay men and lesbians in the U. S. military, but it failed to halt discharges based solely on sexual orientation.

social sciences >> Frank, Barney

Openly gay U. S. congressman Barney Frank has been a leader not only in the cause of gay and lesbian rights but also on issues including fair housing, consumer rights, banking, and immigration.

social sciences >> Maloney, Sean Patrick

Long a champion of glbtq and progressive causes, Sean Patrick Maloney was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 2012 to become the first openly gay U.S. Representative from New York state.

social sciences >> Michaud, Michael H. ("Mike")

Michael H. Michaud, who has served in both houses of the Maine legislature as well as in the U.S. House of Representatives, came out publicly in 2013 during his campaign for the governorship of Maine.

social sciences >> Parker, Annise

In 2009, after a dozen years in elective office in Houston, Texas, Annise Parker won election to the mayoralty of the fourth-largest city in the United States, becoming the first open lesbian to lead a major American city.

social sciences >> Pocan, Mark

A former seven-term member of the Wisconsin Assembly, Mark Pocan easily won election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012.

social sciences >> Polis, Jared

Businessman and philanthropist Jared Polis became one of only three openly gay members in Congress, and the first openly gay man elected to Congress as a freshman, when he won election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2008.

social sciences >> Proposition 8 (California)

Proposition 8, also known as the California Marriage Protection Act, was the ballot proposition that amended the California state constitution to ban same-sex marriage; after prolonged litigation in both state and federal court, it was finally struck down in June 2013.

social sciences >> Sinema, Kyrsten 

After serving several terms in the Arizona state legislature, Kyrsten Sinema ran successfully for the United States House of Representatives in 2012, becoming the first openly bisexual person elected to that body.

social sciences >> Studds, Gerry

Representative Gerry Studs, a Democrat from Massachusetts, was the first member of the United States Congress to acknowledge that he was gay.

social sciences >> Takano, Mark

In 2012, Mark Takano, a Japanese American from Riverside, California, became the first openly gay person of color to be elected to the United States House of Representatives.


Bakst, Charles M. "Eying Congress, Liberal Cicilline Talks up Diversity." Providence Journal-Bulletin (April 1, 1999): 1.

Broder, David S. "A Reformer in Rhode Island." Washington Post (June 8, 2006): A23.

Dahir, Mubarak. "Leading Providence: David Cicilline Becomes the First Openly Gay Mayor of a U. S. State Capital." The Advocate 879 (December 24, 2002): 26.

Edgar, Randal. "Former President Clinton Featured in New Cicilline Ad. Providence Journal (November 1, 2102):

"Interview with Mayor David Cicilline." Matthew's Place (September 2009):

MacKay, Scott. "Round One—For David Cicilline, Mayor of Providence, the Fight Has Just Begun." Providence Journal-Bulletin (March 25, 2005): A1.

Marcelo, Philip. "Firefighters, City Reach Deal." Providence Journal-Bulletin (March 23, 2010): 1.

Milne, Stew. "Tale of 2 Brothers: 1 Indicted, Other Runs State Capital." USA Today (January 26, 2007):

Miro Johnson, Maria. "Gay, Lesbian Leaders Convene in Providence." Providence Journal-Bulletin (November 20, 1999): 1A.

Peoples, Steve. "Sexual Orientation an Open Issue for Cicilline; R. I. Candidate Says Gay Status Isn't Discussed." Roll Call (August 5, 2010).

Smith, Michelle R. "Cicilline Pulls out Big Win in 1st District." Boston Globe (November 6, 2012):


    Citation Information
    Author: Rapp, Linda  
    Entry Title: Cicilline, David  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2010  
    Date Last Updated November 9, 2012  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2010 glbtq, Inc.  


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