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Record number of gays seeking seats in Congress

BY DAVID CRARY, AP NATIONAL WRITER

NEW YORK -- Of the four openly gay members of Congress, the two longest-serving stalwarts are vacating their seats. Instead of fretting, their activist admirers are excited about a record number of gays vying to win seats in the next Congress - and to make history in the process.

When the oaths of office are taken in January, Congress could have its first openly gay Asian-American, Mark Takano of California; its first openly bisexual member, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona; and its first openly gay senator, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin.

In all, eight openly gay candidates are running as major-party nominees for the House of Representatives, the most ever, including the two incumbents who are favored in their races - Democrats Jared Polis of Colorado and David Cicilline of Rhode Island. There's one gay Republican in the group, Richard Tisei, who is waging a competitive campaign for a House seat from Massachusetts.

A common denominator in all the races: Neither the gay candidates nor their rivals are stressing sexual orientation, and the oft-heard refrain is, "It's not an issue." If anti-gay innuendo does surface from lower echelons of a campaign, there are swift disavowals - even conservative candidates these days think twice about being depicted as biased against gays and lesbians.

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