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Opening doors: Gay councilmember find acceptance, support in small town

FOND du LAC, Wisc. -- A framed picture signifies acceptance in a conservative community.

Dan Manning of Fond du Lac isn’t afraid to display a photo on his desk in the offices of Giddings & Lewis MAG that shows him with his partner, Joseph Malson.

The 32-year-old Manning, who was elected to serve on the Fond du Lac City Council in April, does not hide the fact that he is gay.

Manning is a U.S. Army veteran, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and founder of the group Salute the Troops. He also serves as co-president of Equality Wisconsin, an organization dedicated to causes for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the state.

“I obviously didn’t run to be the first ‘out’ gay man on Fond du Lac City Council, but I can tell you that it means a lot to many people right here in Fond du Lac,” Manning said. “I have been contacted by a couple of gay men who thanked me for being a leader and helping to open doors that had previously been closed to them.”

The manufacturing engineer said a lot of people have been supportive, including co-workers and Council members. He said gay people in Fond du Lac are excited to see someone do things that once seemed impossible — like be elected to a public office.

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