LGBT Equality Caucus doubles its membership

By : Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National Gay Media Association
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The congressional caucus dedicated to LGBT issues has nearly doubled its membership, rebounding after experiencing attrition in recent years as a result of shifting to dues-based membership.

The LGBT Equality Caucus announced on Tuesday it has started the 115th Congress with 102 members, which is nearly double the roster of 53 members at the start of the last Congress.

The caucus is co-chaired by each of the six openly LGBT members of Congress: Reps. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), David Cicilline (D-R.I.), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Mark Takano (D-Calif.).

“On behalf of the co-chairs, I thank my colleagues in both parties who have joined the LGBT Equality Caucus and pledged to stand for and with the LGBT community,” Sinema said in a statement. “While we’ve made significant process in recent years, we still have more work to do and must protect the progress we’ve made. Our caucus continues to work to ensure every American has the fundamental freedom and opportunity to pursue the American Dream.”

The number of members at the start of 2015 dropped precipitously from 113 in the previous Congress to 53 after the LGBT Equality Caucus instituted $400 in annual dues for members.

Dues payment for congressional caucuses isn’t unusual. The Congressional Progressive Caucus has a dues requirement for members.

The 11 vice chairs of the LGBT Equality Caucus are Reps. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), Joseph Kennedy III (D-Mass.), Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), Linda T. Sánchez (D-Calif.) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.).

Among the 102 members of the LGBT Equality Caucus are two Republicans: Reps. Ileana-Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.). Both support marriage equality and are considered supporters of LGBT rights.

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