On Friday, February 21, Democratic delegate Mark D. Sickles of Fairfax, Virginia announced that he was gay in a Washington Post opinion column. This marks the second coming out in the Commonwealth of Virginia’s General Assembly, the other being a senator.
In a column titled “A marriage ruling that counts me in,” Sickles cited the February 13 decision by a federal judge in Norfolk who ruled Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Sickles also revealed that recent comments made by some House Republicans contributed to the timing of his announcement.
The Fairfax native is one of eleven candidates vying for the nomination to run for the Northern Virginia congressional seat of retiring Rep. Jim Moran, who’s also a Democrat. The state’s other openly gay legislator, Senator Adam Ebbin of Alexandria, is also vying for the nomination for Moran’s seat, according to The Richmond Times-Dispatch.
As earlier mentioned, Sickles revealed that 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, coupled 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 the Post.
“I have always lived openly with my neighbors, friends and family, lived a full life and never regretted the way I was born,” he added. “But the current moment in Virginia has convinced me that it could be helpful to share this aspect of my life with all of my constituents.”