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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 4, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 1
A new era of inclusion? - 113th Congress has record number of sexual and religious minorities
Section One
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A new era of inclusion? - 113th Congress has record number of sexual and religious minorities

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

As iconic Gay Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) retires from Congress after 16 terms in the House, his legacy will be carried on by a record number of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual members.

Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) was sworn in on January 3 as the first open Lesbian to serve in the U.S. Senate. She has already served seven terms in the House of Representatives.

Succeeding Baldwin in her House seat is openly Gay Mark Pocan (D-WI). He joins re-elected incumbents Jared Polis (D-CO) and David Cicilline (D-RI), and newly elected Gay congressmen Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) and Mark Takano (D-CA).

HISTORIC FIRSTS
Takano is the first openly Gay person of color to serve in the House, and Krysten Sinema (D-AZ) becomes the first open Bisexual to serve in Congress. She is also the first member of Congress officially to describe her religious affiliation as 'none.'

All seven LGB members of Congress are Democrats. Gay Republican candidate Richard Tisei lost his bid for a Massachusetts House seat to incumbent Democrat John Tierney.

The 113th Congress, which convened on January 3, will be the most diverse in history. In addition to the seven LGB members, a record-breaking 20 women will serve in the U.S. Senate - including Baldwin - while 78 will be seated in the House. For the first time in history, white men will not make up a majority of the House Democratic caucus.

There will be 16 Iraq and Afghanistan vets among the new members, including two female combat veterans - Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI).

MORE RELIGIOUS DIVERSITY
Gabbard is also the first Hindu to serve in Congress. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) is the first Buddhist to serve in the Senate, succeeding retiring Sen. Daniel Akaka. Representatives Hank Johnson (D-GA) and Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI) are also Buddhists. There are now two Muslim members of the House - Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Andre Carson (D-IN).

In the Senate there are now 53 Democrats, two independents who will caucus with the Democrats, and 45 Republicans. On the House side, there are 233 Republicans, 200 Democrats, and two open seats - those previously held by Tim Scott (R-SC) and Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL).

Scott was recently appointed to fill the Senate seat vacated by Jim DeMint, becoming the first black Republican senator since 1979, and the only African American to sit in the upper house at this time. Jackson resigned his House seat for health reasons.

Once those seats are filled, the breakdown will almost certainly be 234 Republicans to 201 Democrats.

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