Both openly-gay members of Congress have now endorsed Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination.
The New York senator secured the support of Tammy Baldwin, the Wisconsin congresswoman who is the only out lesbian in the House, months ago. And this week Clinton gained the enthusiastic endorsement of House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, the only out gay man currently serving in the chamber.
Frank specifically hailed Clinton’s support for gay and lesbian rights in announcing his decision to back the woman who current leads in national polling on the Democratic race and who is the front-runner in most early caucus and primary states.
The Massachusetts Democrat said that he is "convinced that Hillary Clinton is the candidate best equipped to pass laws that will treat all Americans with dignity, fairness and equality no matter who they are or who they love."
That comment came as part of a particularly warm embrace of Clinton by Frank, who has traditionally been one of the party’s most determined and effective campaigners among liberals in Massachusetts and other states.
"I have from the beginning of this campaign believed that Hillary Clinton was the candidate best qualified to serve as president," the congressman explained. "I am convinced that once elected, the qualities she will bring to the job — commitment, intellect and political skills — will make her an extremely effective leader in our effort to reverse the badly flawed course on which George Bush and past Republican Congresses have set this country."
Frank’s sister, veteran Democratic party leader Ann Lewis, is a senior adviser to the Clinton campaign. He has been a longtime friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton.
When Baldwin endorsed Clinton last summer, she cited her longstanding friendship with the senator as well as a shared commitment to health care reform. In addition, the Wisconsinite described Clinton as "strong and vocal" in her support of ending employment discrimination against gays and lesbians.
Baldwin acknowledged at the time, however, that she and Clinton do not see eye to eye on the issue of same-sex marriage. The New York senator supports domestic partnership initiatives and civil unions, but has opposed moves that allow gay and lesbian couples to wed.
"It’s not my position," Baldwin said of Clinton’s stance. "I support full marriage equality. We will voice encouragement for (Clinton) to be open to changing her opinion."
Clinton’s chief rivals for the Democratic nomination, Illinois Senator Barack Obama and former North Carolina Senator John Edwards, share the front-runners opposition to same-sex marriage.
In contrast, Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, a longtime colleague of Frank and Baldwin in the House who is also seeking the Democratic presidential nod, has been an outspoken backer of marriage equality for many years. Says Kucinich, "This is really a question of whether you really believe in equality. When you understand what real equality is, you understand that people who love each other must have the opportunity to be able to express that in a way that’s meaningful."