December 2, 2010
By: Joe Siegel/TRT Reporter
Rhode Island LGBT voters elected openly gay Congressional candidate David Cicilline in the race to succeed outgoing Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D).
Cicilline, the 49 year-old Mayor of Providence, trounced his Republican challenger John Loughlin, a State Rep. from Little Compton. Cicilline won 51 percent of the vote to about 45 percent for Loughlin, a conservative who vowed to continue Bush’s tax cuts, denied the existence of global warming, and opposed a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
Cicilline is now the fourth openly gay member of the House of Representatives.
Cicilline’s political career began in 1994, when he was elected as a state representative, staking out liberal positions on civil rights, abortion, gay rights, and gun control.
In 2002, Cicilline was elected as Mayor with 84 percent of the vote, and was re-elected in 2006.
Cicilline had been mentioned as a possible candidate for Governor, but he announced in 2009 that he would be seeking a third term as Mayor of Providence.
After Kennedy announced last February that he was retiring from Congress after serving for 14 years, Cicilline announced his candidacy.
Cicilline won the endorsement of prominent gay politicians, including House Majority Leader Gordon Fox (D-Providence) and State Rep. Frank Ferri (D-Warwick).
In September, Cicilline triumphed in a four-way Democratic primary, defeating businessman Anthony Gemma, former state Democratic party chairman William Lynch, and State Rep. David Segal.
However, Cicilline had his share of critics, who faulted him for his record as Mayor.
“In my opinion, David Cicilline was an ineffective Mayor. He is leaving behind a enormous debt and a city in disarray,” said Greg Wright, who voted for Loughlin.
Incumbent Democratic Congressman James Langevin was re-elected, defeating Republican rival Mark Zaccaria.
In the General Assembly, openly gay incumbents were re-elected, including Fox, Ferri, and State Rep. Deborah Ruggiero (D-Jamestown, Middletown).
Pro-LGBT incumbents who were re-elected include State Reps. Edith Ajello (D), Arthur Handy (D), Scott Slater (D), Grace Diaz (D), and Donald Lally (D), and State Senators Juan Pichardo (D), Rhoda Perry (D), Donna Nesselbush (D), Erin Lynch (D), Nicholas Kettle (R), Joshua Miller (D), Christopher Ottiano (R), and Susan Sosnowski (D).
LGBT activists were delighted with the results.
“Rhode Islanders chose candidates–almost across the board–who actively support full equality for LGBTQ people,” said Wendy Becker , who believes there is great chance of passing a same-sex marriage bill in the next legislative session.
However, Becker said LGBTs need to remain vigilant: “We must organize to fight the opposition as elections don’t affect the powerful religious lobbies in this state.”
“Rhode Islanders across the state have spoken out for equality,” noted Patrick Smock, chair of MERI PAC. “They cast their votes and are sending marriage equality supporters to the State House to bring fairness and respect to all the families in our state, their friends and neighbors.”