State Representative Gordon Fox this week became the first openly gay lawmaker elected Speaker of the Rhode Island House of Representatives.
The Democrat from Providence was overwhelmingly elected with 51 votes in the House, with the other 19 votes going to two other candidates. Democrats nominated him during an earlier closed-door caucus.
Fox, 48, announced he was gay in 2004 during a Statehouse rally in support of gay marriage.
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He said in an interview with The Providence Journal that he is “in a long-term relationship, but not officially married. … When I get married, I would like to do it in my home state.”
Fox said he was reluctant to make a hard-and-fast commitment to bring the issue to the House floor for a vote without “a lot of internal discussions.” But, “we should have equal marriage rights in Rhode Island … That would definitely be something on a personal level I would like to see.”
Rhode Island is the only New England state besides Maine that does not recognize same-sex marriage.
Besides being the first openly gay lawmaker to preside over the House, Fox is also the first minority lawmaker to hold what is arguably the state’s most powerful political post. Fox is the biracial son of an Irish father and a Cape Verdean mother, athough he identifies himself as black.
Last month in California, Assembly member John Perez made history as the first openly gay lawmaker to be elected Speaker of his state’s Assembly.