Giffords is a gay rights supporter

U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D – Ariz., is a member of the House LGBT Equality Caucus, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

Giffords survived being shot in the head Jan. 8 while holding a public meeting with her constituents in Tucson. Eighteen people were shot in the melee and six have died, including a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl.

Giffords was elected to represent Arizona’s Eighth Congressional District in 2006 after Jim Kolbe, an openly gay Republican, retired from the seat.

After her House victory in 2006, Giffords made the following statement, according to HRC:

“I have stood up for equality in Arizona, and I am grateful that HRC and the GLBT community stood with our campaign during the primary and the general elections. We can accomplish so much for our families when we work together. Fairness is an essential American value, and when we champion fairness, we can win decisive victories in even the most competitive congressional districts.”

Giffords narrowly won re-election in November over a Tea Party-backed candidate. During the campaign, Sarah Palin posted a map on the Internet with Giffords’ district depicted in the crosshairs of a rifle scope. “Don’t retreat, reload,” Palin’s headline said.

The window of Giffords’ office was smashed last March after she voted for healthcare reform.

Although Palin targeted Giffords, she is a moderate who was once affiliated with the Republican Party and a strong supporter of gun owners’ rights. People who knew her said she succeeded by listening to all sides.

Giffords “has been a very successful politician, a very successful representative” through an engaging personality and by being centrist on many issues, Kolbe told the Associated Press.

“I think she engages people. You have to work hard to not like Gabby Giffords,” Kolbe said. “She would talk to anybody and meet with anybody.”

Giffords is married to astronaut Mark E. Kelly.