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Sister Act

How the Republican revolution launched the other Gingrich into activism.

When her brother Newt took over Congress in November 1994, Candace Gingrich was leading a busy but relaxed life, loading trucks in the evening for UPS, doing occasional data entry work for the Pennsylvania school system during the day, and filling her leisure time with movies and rugby games with friends. Less than a month later, the Associated Press reported that Candace, the youngest of Newt's three younger sisters, was gay. "I had been out to my family and friends since 1987, but chose not to publicly be an activist," says Gingrich, who is 30. But after listening to the far-right rhetoric of her half brother's Republican revolution, she chose not to hide from the media cameras.

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Soon, she began a series of 48 town hall meetings across the country on behalf of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay and lesbian advocacy group and political action committee. She's since become the poster child of gay activists, who now sport "Equal Rights for Newt's Sister" buttons at political rallies; an offbeat cultural icon, appearing in a cameo role as a gay minister on the 20-something sitcom "Friends"; and an author (The Accidental Activist; New York: Scribner's, 1996). Most importantly, she's a very visible full-time foil for her brother, whose party she calls the greatest opposition to the civil rights of gay Americans. She recently took time out to speak with Mother Jones.

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