Out Rep. David Cicilline leaves Congress

Rep. David Cicilline
Rep. David Cicilline Photo: Screenshot

Yesterday was former out Rep. David Cicilline’s (D-RI) last day in office, and today he starts his new, lucrative job with a nonprofit, despite being elected to serve two years in Congress just this past November.

Cicilline announced his departure in February – just one month after being sworn in for this session of Congress – to be the next president and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation. According to WPRI, the position paid over $1 million a year in 2019.

Cicilline first entered politics when he was elected to the state General Assembly in 1994 and then became mayor of Providence in 2002, making him the first out gay mayor of that city.

In Congress, Cicilline has been a staunch supporter of LGBTQ+ rights, introducing a bill to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act in 2011. Since 2015, he has introduced the Equality Act, a bill that would add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected categories to federal civil rights legislation. The bill passed the House in 2019 and 2021 but the Senate failed to pass it in those sessions of Congress.

Cicilline voted twice to impeach Donald Trump and was the impeachment manager for Trump’s second trial in the Senate.

In a column in Advocate, he reflected on his time in Congress, noting that there were only four LGBTQ+ members of Congress when he started in 2011. Now there are 10.

“As we enter Pride Month and celebrate not only our vibrant community but also the many wins we have had for LGBTQI+ equality, we inspire hope for the future,” he wrote. “As anti-equality extremists continue to increase these hateful attacks on the community, especially transgender and gender non-conforming people, it is more important than ever that we enshrine LGBTQI+ equality into law.”

“It has been the greatest honor of my life to represent the people of Rhode Island’s First District in the House of the [sic] Representatives, and I am proud to have also been a voice for LGBTQI+ people across the country,” he concluded. “While my role will change in the months ahead, my commitment to equality will never waiver. I hope you will continue to join me in the fight.”

His office said that his staff will keep district offices open until a special election can be held. Rhode Island’s First Congressional District leans heavily Democratic, so the party is not likely to lose the seat in the upcoming special election. Over a dozen Democrats have said they’re running in the upcoming primary. The date of the primary has not yet been announced.

He delivered his last House floor speech yesterday.

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