Randy Florke (left) and Rep. Sean Maloney (center), with their children, Essie, Jesus & Daley | Photo Courtesy of Rep. Maloney's office
“It makes you believe in your country to watch what’s possible when people work and organize and fight for their rights," Rep. Sean Maloney, 47, said in an interview with BuzzFeed concerning his recent engagement. "And it’s extremely gratifying to know that the system still can work at delivering equal rights to people — even if it takes too long, even if it shouldn’t be this hard. On a personal level, it’s interesting when you’ve been in love with someone for 21 years and your country finally catches up to you — in saying, ‘It’s OK with us, too.’”
Maloney has only been the Congressman representing New York's 18th Congressional District (the wealthy northern suburbs of New York City, that includes Westchester) since 2013, but he's been an influential, openly gay man in politics for some time, having served as the White House Staff Secretary under President Clinton. Now, after his engagement to his longtime partner Randy Florke on Christmas Day 2013, he's set to become one of the highest ranking U.S. politicians in a same-sex marriage. But the proposal and marriage weren't an obvious choice for the couple, despite having spent so many years together.
“Everyone would assume that he would be the one that would do it, but, if you really know Sean, there probably wasn’t a chance in hell he would have done it,” Florke told BuzzFeed. So it was Florke who did the proposing. He gave him a suitcase as a gift and then said: "'I’m giving you a really obvious gift. It’s a suitcase, but it comes with a proposal: I want to know if you will travel with me forever and marry me.’ I think his first words were, ‘Oh, Jesus.’ But, then, of course, he’s like, ‘Yes.’”
The couple have three children together—Essie, Jesus, and Daley—and it's become a very important milestone for them as well.
“When you’re our age, and you’ve been together as long as we have, you know what your relationship is and you don’t consider it something less than someone else’s,” Maloney said. “In the eyes of young children, it matters that you’re married. It means something to them and so we saw that through their eyes. … [M]y youngest had asked for this in a note to Santa Claus, which was a complete coincidence, and so it was a pretty emotional experience all around.”
The couple plans to marry in early summer 2014.