By: Chuck Colbert/TRT Reporter–
An openly gay lawmaker from Massachusetts has announced his candidacy for Congress.
“I am running to continue the strong progressive leadership that the families of the 5th District have always counted on,” said state Representative Carl M. Sciortino, Jr., according to a Facebook posting and press release. “I look forward to bringing my record of accomplishment to Washington to fight for our progressive values.”
The 5th District is currently represented by Representative Edward Markey, the frontrunner in the special election to replace Senator John Kerry, who was recently appointed Secretary of State by President Barack Obama.
A Markey supporter for the Massachusetts Senate race, Sciortino is wasting no time in gearing up for a run should the 5th District seat become vacant this June.
Both Sciortino and Markey are Democrats.
Reached by phone, Sciortino said, “My first priority is to get Markey elected. Meanwhile, I need to get started to build an infrastructure, get my name and story out there, build up relationships, and fund raise.”
“I want to be able to hit the ground running,” Sciortino said.
Marriage equality, transgender and women rights
A leading progressive and LGBT voice in the Massachusetts Statehouse, Sciortino was first elected in 2004. At that time lawmakers were considering a constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage ushered in by the Supreme Judicial Court’s historic 2003 Goodridge decision. Only 25 years old at the time, Sciortino upset a 14-year incumbent who opposed marriage equality.
For several years (2004 to 2007) as lawmakers debated placing a same-sex marriage ban before voters, Sciortino was a vocal and visible presence in keeping the measure off the ballot. Afterwards, he went on to co-author and champion transgender equal rights legislation, which became law in 2011. Sciortino also co-authored a law that created a 35-foot buffer zone protecting entrances to women’s reproductive health centers.
In the Legislature Sciortino serves on public health and ways and means committees, among others.
In addition to leadership on LGBT equality issues, Sciortino said that just as he “fought for HIV/AIDS funding and improved testing, treatment, and prevention services” on Beacon Hill, so he would advocate those concerns in Washington, D.C.
A native of New Haven, Connecticut, Sciortino first came to the Boston area to attend college. A graduate of Tufts University, he holds a master’s degree in public administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Before his election to the Legislature, Sciortino served as manager of research and operations at Boston’s Fenway Health, a state-of-the-art medical facility that provides a full range of health care services to the LGBT community.
Another openly gay legislator
Sciortino is one of the state’s seven openly gay legislators.
If he were elected to Congress, Sciortino would become the eighth LGBT lawmaker on Capitol Hill. He would also be the third out congressman from Massachusetts, following Representatives Gerry Studds (deceased) and Barney Frank (retired).
To date, there are no other declared candidates for the yet-to-be vacant 5th District seat.
However, in the Senate race, Markey now faces a challenger in the special primary election, scheduled for April 30. Congressman Stephen F. Lynch, a Democrat, announced his candidacy on Jan. 31.
For some time, former Republican Senator Scott Brown, who lost to Senator Elizabeth Warren last fall, was also expected to enter the race. However, on Jan. 31 Brown said he would not run.
Openly gay and Republican, former state Senator Richard Tisei, who lost a close congressional race this fall to Representative John Tierney, also decided against a run, although for a short time Tisei hinted at the possibility of his candidacy.
Those developments opened the door for Republican state Representative Daniel B. Winslow. A former judge and aide to Governor Mitt Romney, Winslow announced his candidacy on Feb. 7.
Another Republican, Gabriel E. Gomez, a former Navy SEAL and private equity investor, took out nomination papers (Feb. 11) to run, according to Boston Globe reporting.
Gomez and Winslow will face off in a contested GOP primary.
Sure enough, Sciortino is not the only openly gay person with eyes on a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Sean Eldridge, husband of Facebook co-founder and New Republic owner Chris Hughes, has filed papers for a 2014 run in New York’s 19th Congressional District, according Bloomberg News reporting.
An investor and Democratic party activist, Eldridge, 26, served as political director and director of communications at New York City-based Freedom to Marry, helping to lead the successful 2011 statewide legislative effort to win equal-marriage rights for same sex couples.
Eldridge is currently president of Hudson Rivers Ventures, LLC, a small business investment fund.
The 19th District is located north of the 18th, where Sean Patrick Maloney, a Democrat, was elected last November, becoming New York’s first openly gay congressman.
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