Total Members Voted: 68
Gerry Eastman Studds (born May 12, 1937) is a retired American politician, born in Mineola, New York. He served as a Democratic Congressman for Massachusetts from 1973 until 1997. He was the first openly homosexual member of the US Congress and, more generally, the first openly gay national politician in the US. In 1983, he admitted to having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old male page in 1973 and was censured by the House of Representatives.BiographyStudds attended Yale University, from which he received a bachelor's degree in history in 1959 and a master's degree in 1961. Following graduation Studds was a foreign service officer in the State Department and then an assistant in the Kennedy White House, where he worked to establish a domestic Peace Corps. Later, he became a teacher at a St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire.CongressStudds made his first run for public Congress in 1970, but lost to the incumbent Republican representative in a close election. In his second bid, in 1972, Studds succeeded, becoming the first Democrat in 50 years to win what had been considered a safe Republican seat.Congressional page sex scandalStudds was a central figure in the 1983 Congressional page sex scandal, when he and Representative Dan Crane were censured by the House of Representatives for separate sexual relationships with minors – in Studds's case, a 1973 relationship with a 17-year-old male congressional page who was of the age of legal consent, according to state law at the time. The relationship was consensual, but presented ethical concerns relating to working relationships with subordinates.During the course of the House Ethics Committee's investigation, Studds publicly acknowledged his homosexuality, a disclosure that, according to a Washington Post article, "apparently was not news to many of his constituents." Studds stated in an address to the House, "It is not a simple task for any of us to meet adequately the obligations of either public or private life, let alone both, but these challenges are made substantially more complex when one is, as I am, both an elected public official and gay." He acknowledged that it had been inappropriate to engage in a relationship with a subordinate, and said his actions represented "a very serious error in judgement."Nonetheless, when the House voted to censure Studds, on July 20, 1983, by a vote of 420-3, as the House read its censure motion aloud, Studds turned his back on the speaker and members in the chamber and ignored them. In addition to the censure, the Democratic leadership stripped Studds of his chairmanship of the House Merchant Marine subcommittee. Studds was later appointed chair of the House Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries. Studds recieved standing ovations, not in Congress as has been reported, but in his home district at his first town meeting following his congressional censure.Continued serviceStudds was re-elected to 5 more terms after the censure. He fought for many issues, including environmental and maritime issues, gay marriage, AIDS funding, and civil rights, particularly for homosexuals.After CongressSince retiring from Congress in 1997, Studds has been a lobbyist for the fishing industry. Studds previously worked for two years as executive director of the New Bedford Oceanarium, a facility still under development. Studds and his longtime partner, Dean T. Hara, who have been together since 1991, applied for a marriage license on May 18 and were married in Boston on May 24, 2005, one week after same-sex marriages became legal in Massachusetts. The Gerry E. Studds Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, which sits at the mouth of Massachusetts Bay, is named for Studds.