Providence Mayor David Cicilline is closer to becoming the fourth openly gay member of Congress after winning the Democratic nomination to represent Rhode Island's 1st Congressional District.

Cicilline beat out former state party Chairman Bill Lynch, businessman Anthony Gemma and state Rep. David Segal for the nomination.

A jubilant Cicilline was declared the winner by news outlets shortly before 10PM. He now will face Republican John Loughlin in the race to succeed Rep. Patrick Kennedy, who abruptly retired from Congress earlier this year.

The 48-year-old Cicilline, who has served two terms as mayor of Providence, enjoys the endorsement of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, a group that supports openly gay elected officials, and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest gay rights advocate.

“Adding more authentic LGBT voices to Congress is a Victory Fund priority, and Mayor Cicilline's win tonight puts us one giant step closer to doing just that,” Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund, said in a statement.

HRC President Joe Solmonese cheered Cicilline's win.

“We are thrilled that David Cicilline has advanced to the general election,” he said in a statement. “He has proven himself as a state senator and strong mayor and will no doubt be an active and effective congressman in promoting equality for all people.”

Denis Dison, a Victory Fund vice president, told On Top Magazine that the increasing numbers of openly gay elected officials is slowly changing the political landscape.

“Every year more and more brave people are stepping up to run for office while being honest about who they are,” Dison said. “That's going to change politics in America.”

If elected, Cicilline would join three openly gay incumbent representatives – Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Barney Frank of Massachusetts and Jared Polis of Colorado – who are expected to keep their seats. An openly gay family man, Steve Pougnet, is challenging Republican Rep. Mary Bono Mack in California.