WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Representative David Cicilline, a leading voice in Congress for gay rights, on Wednesday mounted a run for a Democratic leadership job, challenging Representative James Clyburn, a civil rights activist.
The liberal Cicilline, 61, is seeking the job of assistant Democratic leader in the new Congress that begins on Jan. 3. He currently chairs the "LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus."
Representative Hakeem Jeffries earlier on Wednesday was elected Democratic leader, becoming the first Black person to hold a top leadership job in Congress.
"I believe we must have an LGBTQ+ member at the leadership table, especially when so much is at stake for our community in the coming years," Cicilline wrote in a letter on Wednesday, appealing for backing from his fellow House Democrats.
He specifically mentioned the shooting earlier this month at an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs that left five people dead and another 17 wounded.
First elected to the House in 2010, Cicilline, a former mayor of Providence, Rhode Island, has been a vocal advocate of gay rights and has led congressional hearings on anti-competitive practices in the high-tech industry.
Clyburn, 82, is currently House majority whip and has served in Democratic leadership for decades, but agreed to relinquish his spot as a trio of top Democrats resigned from leadership. He is now running for assistant Democratic leader, however. His early endorsement in his home state of South Carolina of Joe Biden helped the then-candidate secure the 2020 Democratic nomination for president.
(Reporting by Richard Cowan in Washington; Editing by Matthew Lewis)