After a protracted battle for the speaker position – eventually won by California Rep. Kevin McCarthy on the 15th vote – the 118th Congress of the United States was sworn in on Jan. 7, 2023.
A record 11 members identify as LGBT, 10 of which are Democrats. Four of the 11 are entering their first term. Here is a brief on each member:
David Cicilline (D-RI): The elder statesman of this group was first elected to Congress in 2011 after becoming the first gay mayor of a state capital city. Cicilline, 61, serves as co-chair of the Equality Caucus and represents Rhode Island’s first congressional district. In 2015, he authored and introduced the Equality Act, which expands the 1964 Civil Rights act to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Mark Pocan (D-WI)
Pocan, 58, a small businessman and union member represents Wisconsin’s second congressional district. He assumed office in 2013 and chairs the Equality Caucus.
Angie Craig (D-MN)
A former journalist, Craig, 50, is the first out lesbian with children to serve in Congress. Entering her third term as Representative of Minnesota’s second congressional district, Craig and her wife Cheryl Greene have four children.
Mark Takano (D-CA)
Taking office in 2013, Takano became the first gay man of Asian descent in Congress. He represents California’s 41st congressional district. A former longtime public school teacher, Takano, 62, is the ranking Democrat on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
Chris Pappas (D-NH)
Elected in 2018, Pappas, 42, represents New Hampshire’s first congressional district. A native of the Granite State, Pappas co-owns the Puritan Backroom, a popular restaurant in Manchester.
Sharice Davids (D-KS)
The first LGBT Native American elected to Congress, Davids, 42, is entering her third term representing Kansas’ third congressional district. She is a member of the Ho-Chunk people and a former professional mixed martial arts fighter.
Ritchie Torres (D-NY)
Elected in 2020, Torres became the first gay Afro-Latino in Congress. The 34-year-old represents New York’s 15th congressional district, one of the smallest area-wise and poorest in the nation.
Becca Balint (D-VT)
The first out lesbian to serve in Congress from Vermont, Balint, 54, won election in 2022 for the state’s only congressional seat.
Eric Sorensen (D-IL)
A former meteorologist, Sorensen is the first gay man elected to Congress from Illinois. The 46-year-old won the 2022 election for Illinois’ 17th congressional district.
Robert Garcia (D-CA)
Elected in 2022 from California’s 42nd congressional district, Garcia was the first gay Latino to serve as mayor of Long Beach. Born in Peru, the 45-year-old is an avid comic books fan and was sworn in on his copy of the very first issue of Superman.
George Santos (R-NY)
One of the most controversial figures to ever step foot inside the Capitol. The Republican was elected in New York’s third congressional district in 2022. After much self-admitted embellishment of his biography, it’s hard to know what is true about Santos (Is that even his name?).
All photos via Facebook.