Back in the current moment
In March 2003, Fox offered the spontaneous revelation, as part of a same-sex marriage rally at the State House, that he is a gay man in a long-term relationship with his partner.
While he says he hadn’t made a previous effort to hide his orientation, coming out has “actually been liberating,” Fox says, and the general reaction has been “very positive.” “People have come up to me and said, ‘It just shows that you’re an honest person.’ ”
Fox acknowledges that the lack of pro¬gress on gay marriage has been frustrating at times. Speaking more generally — in a metaphor that seems to sum up his place in the legislative leadership — it’s important, he says, not to get so far ahead of the prevailing sentiment that someone is left out on a sandbar when the tide is coming in.
If the occasional progressive grouses about Fox’s inability to advance a broader liberal agenda, the majority leader generally earns plaudits from the activist community.
“My thought about Gordon is that we probably don’t see the best work that he carries out for the progressive community,” says Marti Rosenberg, a longtime lobbyist on progressive issues. “I think he is right there when we need a strong progressive, helping behind the scenes, stopping bad legislation, and advancing a progressive worldview and a progressive agenda. I just wish that the politics of the House were different, so that he could play the same pro-active role on the floor of the House.”
Looking forward, Fox has some time in which to plot his likely next move — either for speaker or perhaps mayor of Providence.
Speaker Murphy has suggested a self-imposed eight-year limit on his tenure. If he holds to this, it would mean a succession battle in the time leading to the start of the House session in January 2011 — which will roughly coincide with the statewide election in November 2010. Based on his aggressive fundraising and recent staff moves, Providence Mayor David Cicilline seems a very likely Democratic gubernatorial candidate for 2010.
While Fox says he “never thought of those two as choices,” his current preference would be to become speaker.
The next fight for speaker is likely to attract a number of contenders, including Representative Peter Kilmartin of Pawtucket, and the outcome is far from certain.
In the interim, Fox — like his favorite athlete, Mike Mussina — says his plan is to “roll up my sleeves, do hard work, and to ask to be judged for that.”
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