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First openly gay, black Republican mayor takes office in NJ borough

Friday, January 6, 2012
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CHATHAM, N.J. — Bruce Harris was sworn in this week as Mayor of the borough of Chatham, N.J., and became what is believed to be the first openly gay, black Republican mayor in the country.

Bruce Harris

Harris, an attorney and 30-year resident of Chatham, said he did not enter politics to break barriers, but “I have felt it is my duty to serve the community,” reported the Daily Record.

“I think that public service is interesting, and finding ways to meet the challenges facing a small community like Chatham Borough is personally rewarding,” he said.

The Victory Fund, an organization that works to elect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, said Harris is the first mayor of his kind in the country.

“Harris’ election shows that Chatham is a changing community,” said Leanna Brown, a former state senator and a resident of Chatham for 50 years.

“We’re not solidly one color,” Brown said. “And there is more acceptance of different lifestyles than there may have been in the past.”

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