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Openly gay candidates Robert Zimmerman and George Santos face off in historic Congressional race

Two LGBTQ candidates face off in historic election on LI
Two LGBTQ candidates face off in historic election on LI 02:56

NEW YORK -- Parts of Queens and Long Island are making political history even before Election Day

For the first time in U.S. history, two openly gay candidates are facing off in a General Election for Congress, hoping to take over Democrat Tom Suozzi's old seat in District 3. 

As CBS2's John Dias reports, the candidates are far from the same person.

Mainstream Democrat Robert Zimmerman and conservative Republican George Santos are polar opposites. One of the only things they may have in common is that they're both gay. 

But based on their age, they seemingly reflect differently on that too. 

"Growing up, I never dreamed we would have a member of the LGBTQ+ community representing Long Island or Queens in Congress," Zimmerman told Dias. 

"It just shows this country is an equal opportunity for everyone," Santos said. 

Santos doesn't have former President Donald Trump's endorsement but supports him and proudly admits Trump is part of the reason why he's running for Congress and went to the "Stop the Steal" rally on Jan. 6. 

"That was the most amazing crowd, and the president was at his full awesomeness that day," he said in an interview

Santos is against abortion and supports the so-called "Don't say gay bill" for education in Florida. Zimmerman is for abortion and adamantly against the Florida bill. 

As polarizing as the candidates may be, when it comes to policies, they do strongly agree on at least one thing -- marriage equality and making sure it is not reversed. 

"It's not going to happen on my watch. I have fought those fights and I am not going to see another generation endure that again," said Zimmerman. 

Recently, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said marriage equality should be reconsidered when Roe v. Wade was overturned. But these candidates see the severity of that opinion, in opposite ways. 

"It is powerfully impactful," Zimmerman said. 

"It is nothing more than a legal essay," said Santos. 

Policies aside, the representation in this election is historic. Never have two members of the LGBTQ community run against one another in the General Election for Congress. 

"I think having these two men in the historic race is transformative for the lives of young LGBT kids in the district," LGBTQ Victory Fund President Annise Parker told Dias. 

However, David Belsky, CEO of the strategic communication firm Good Rebellion, says a question that still remains is whether representation will actually translate into results, especially for Santos. 

"Definitely takes a lot of guts to be an LGBT man in the Republican party. But I would say it takes even more guts as an LGBT man in the Republican party to stand up to other people in the party that are making the decisions that hurt others in your community," he said. 

It will be up to Long Island and Queens voters to decide on Nov. 8.

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