A Republican congressman in Alabama who is openly gay has been elected to the state’s House of Representatives, becoming the first openly gay member of the chamber.
The announcement comes just a week after the state became the latest in the South to approve marriage equality.
“I’ve always been proud of the fact that I’ve never had any kind of relationship with the government or the government’s power,” Rep. Don Huffines, a Republican from Madison County, told the Associated Press.
“But the more that I think about the country’s problems, the more I think that it’s time for the government to step in and help us deal with our own problems.”
Huffines told the AP that he is a “big believer in free enterprise.”
He has made a career out of promoting policies that include repealing the Affordable Care Act, expanding the Social Security retirement program, and extending the Medicaid program.
But he has also been known to support a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that prevents gay and lesbian troops from openly serving in the military.
Huffines announced he was running for the House in November, after he became the first member of his state’s congressional delegation to openly support marriage equality and other rights.
In the announcement, Huffines said he wants to work with lawmakers to make “sure that we can continue to get the best health care, education, job training, and other services that we have to our citizens.”
In his announcement, the congressman said he is “open to a compromise” with the Republican-led Congress over the issue.
Huffings district, however, is one of the most conservative in the country.
The Republican-controlled state has long been one of Alabama’s more conservative parts, with the state having one of strictest gun control laws in the nation.
Alabama has also had a long history of anti-gay violence, with an estimated 80 murders on the state level since 1992.
The recent announcement comes at a time when Republicans in Congress are trying to pass a sweeping bill to repeal Obamacare.
President Donald Trump has said he would sign the bill.
Huffins announcement comes as Republicans in the Senate have voted to pass legislation that would repeal key parts of the Affordable Act.