|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Wisconsin's 3rd district
January 3, 1981 - January 3, 1997
|Born||May 10, 1951|
Eau Claire, Wisconsin, U.S.
|Education||University of Wisconsin, Madison (BA)|
Steven Craig Gunderson (born May 10, 1951) is the former President and CEO of the Council on Foundations, the current president and CEO of the Career Education Colleges and Universities, and a former Republican congressman from Wisconsin.
Gunderson served in the Wisconsin State Assembly from 1975 to 1979 before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1980, to represent Wisconsin's 3rd congressional district. First elected to the 97th Congress, he served eight terms in the House and did not seek re-election to the 105th Congress in 1996. He was appointed by President Barack Obama to the President's Commission on White House Fellows in January 2010.
In 1994, Gunderson was outed as gay on the House floor by representative Bob Dornan (R-CA) during a debate over federal funding for gay-friendly curricula, making him one of the first openly gay members of Congress and the first openly gay Republican representative. In 1996, Gunderson was the only Republican in Congress to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act, and he has been a vocal supporter of gay rights causes since leaving Congress. During his time in the House, Gunderson was one of only two gay Republicans serving in Congress, the other being Jim Kolbe of Arizona.
Gunderson advocated for expedited immigration rights to the Laotian Hmong people, who had been allied with U.S. war efforts during the Vietnam War and later faced persecution under the Communist government of Laos. In an October 1995 National Review article, Michael Johns, a former Republican White House aide and Heritage Foundation policy analyst, praised Gunderson's efforts in behalf of the Hmong people, quoting Gunderson as telling a Hmong gathering in Wisconsin: "I do not enjoy standing up and saying to my government that you are not telling the truth, but if that is necessary to defend truth and justice, I will do that." Republicans also called several congressional hearings on alleged persecution of the Hmong in Laos in an apparent attempt to generate further support for their opposition to the Hmong's repatriation to Laos. Led by Gunderson and other Hmong advocates in Congress, the Clinton administration's policy of forced repatriation of the Hmong was ultimately overturned and thousands were granted U.S. immigration rights.