October 7, 2013 | by Chris Johnson
Gay congressional candidate marries in Mass.
Pem Brown, Carl Sciortino Jr., gay news, Washington Blade, Massachusetts

Francis Pemberton “Pem” Brown and Mass. House Rep. Carl Sciortino, Jr. (D-Middlesex) wed Saturday. (Photo by Glen Livermore Photography).

A gay Massachusetts politician vying to win an upcoming special congressional election married his partner of more than five years on Saturday in a ceremony he says reflects the progress of the LGBT rights movement.

State Rep. Carl Sciortino, who’s seeking to represent Massachusetts’ 5th congressional district in the U.S. House, wed his partner of more than five years, Pem Brown, a consultant for non-profit communications, in Boston at the Old South Meeting House.

Sciortino, 35, told the Blade that he thinks the lack of controversy over his wedding to Brown, 29, demonstrates the amount of progress made in LGBT rights over the last 10 years, and especially after the U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act.

“I think the fact that I can get married as a congressional candidate in a middle of the election, and it’s not a big deal, not a controversy, is a sign of how far we’ve come in the last 10 years,” Sciortino said. “When I first ran for office in 2004 at the height of the marriage debate here, it was inconceivable then that I could 10 years later be getting married, and have it be recognized not only by the State of Massachusetts, but the federal government.”

Sciortino, who has touted his progressive values in running for Congress, is credited as a state lawmaker with helping beat back a state constitutional amendment that would have rescinded marriage rights for gay couples in Massachusetts.

The location of the wedding is significant for the LGBT rights movement because it’s where the LGBT community gathered in 2003 to celebrate the night of the Massachusetts Supreme Court decision that brought marriage equality to the first jurisdiction in the country.

According to the Sciortino campaign, 175 people attended the ceremony. Among them was Marc Solomon, national campaign director for Freedom to Marry, who officiated.

Solomon, who worked with Sciortino as head of MassEquality when same-sex marriage was made legal in Massachusetts, said the wedding is a reminder that “the political is the personal.”

“Carl had been in that building just about 10 years ago on the day of that decision,” Solomon said. “It was really cool, exciting and moving to be back there for the ceremony. It’s a place where lots of social movements and resistance movements had taken off, from the Boston Tea Party onwards.”

Sciortino’s campaign gained more recognition at the national level last month when it started running a web ad of Sciortino “coming out” as a progressive to his Tea Party father. Just recently, Sciortino was endorsed by the Progressive Democrats of America.

The primary in the heavily Democratic district is set for Oct. 15. According to an Emerson College poll published late last month, Sciortino is at the bottom of the pack in a crowded field.

The poll found State Sen. Katherine Clark in the lead at 24 percent, followed by Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian at 19 percent, State Sen. Karen Spilka at 15.5 percent, State Sen. William Brownsberger at 11 percent and Sciortino at 5 percent.

Among those who had seen his ad, the situation is different. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee published a poll conducted by Public Policy Polling on Sept. 26 that showed,  among voters who have seen his ad, Sciortino leading in the race at 29 percent.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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