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LGBT group to back two gay Republicans for Congress

Boston Globe/BOSTON GLOBE VIA GETTY IMAGES - Massachusetts Republican congressional candidate Richard Tisei, left, shakes hands with Joe McDonough in June.

An outside group that supports LGBT candidates is set to endorse two men seeking to become the first openly gay Republicans elected to Congress.

The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund on Tuesday will announce that it is backing former Massachusetts state senator Richard Tisei and former University of New Hampshire dean Dan Innis, according to an announcement shared early with The Washington Post.

Both men are running in top-targeted races -- Tisei against Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass.) and Innis against Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.). Tisei is running again after losing narrowly in 2012; Innis faces former congressman Frank Guinta (R) in his primary.

A third openly gay Republican running in a top race, former San Diego mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio, will not receive the group's endorsement Tuesday. DeMaio has perhaps the best chance at winning a seat in Congress, among the three.

Each man would become the first openly gay Republican elected to Congress. There has been a gay Republican in Congress -- former congressman Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.) -- but he came out after he was elected for the first time.

“Both Dan Innis and Richard Tisei have demonstrated outstanding leadership and are viewed as visionary leaders that are voices for their constituencies,” said Torey Carter, chief operating officer at the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund. “Their elections would shatter a glass ceiling for the Republican Party, and further the dialogue within the GOP about LGBT issues.”

The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund has been around for two decades. It does not run ads on behalf of candidates but helps connect them with potential donors and provides other support.

Tisei and Innis are the first viable GOP congressional candidates that the group has backed.

The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund has previously backed six LGBT candidates for Congress, five of them being incumbent Democrats.