The Commonwealth of Virginia now has two members of the General Assembly — one delegate and one senator — out of the closet and acknowledging they are gay.
Del. Mark Sickles, Democrat from Fairfax, confirmed his homosexuality Friday in a column published in The Washington Post.
Both are running for the Democratic nomination to replace retiring Congressman James Moran, also a Democrat.
Sickles said the open homophobia demonstrated on the floor of the Virginia legislature and other governmental bodies helped him decide to go public with his sexual orientation.
“Hearing such caustic remarks yet again on the House floor, couples with the overturning of the marriage ban, has motivated me to state publicly here what many close friends and family have known for decades: I am a proud, gay man,” Sickles wrote in his Op-Ed column in the Post.
Sickles was referring to the outright homophobia often expressed by the rabid right wing in Virginia and throughout the South and, in particular, remarks by Prince William Del. Robert Marshall, who called the gay lifestyle “life shortening and health compromising.”
Virginia’s ban on gay marriages was recently overturned by a federal judge who called the law “unconstitutional” and cited reasons that were also used years ago to overturn the Commonwealth’s ban on inter-racial marriage.