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Monday, July 8, 2019

(TIME-Warp) This Week marks the 36th Anniversary of Congress' First Gay Scandal!

Gerry Studds, a Democratic Congressman from Massachusetts who served from 1973 until 1997. He was the first openly gay member of Congress in the U.S. In 1983 he was censured by the House of Representatives after he admitted to having had an affair with a 17-year-old page on July 11, 1983. 


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 judgment

The House voted to censure Studds, on July 20, 1983, by a vote of 420-3. Studds faced the Speaker who was actually reading the motion, with his back to the other members

After retiring from Congress in 1997, Studds and partner Dean T. Hara (his companion since 1991) were married in Boston on May 24, 2004, one week after same-sex marriages became legal in Massachusetts. 

Studds died on October 14, 2006 in Boston, at age 69, several days after suffering a pulmonary embolism.

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