Steven Craig Gunderson (born May 10, 1951) is an American politician. A member of the Republican Party, he notably represented Wisconsin's 3rd congressional district between 1981 to 1997.
Born in Eau Claire, Wisconsin and raised near Whitehall, Wisconsin, he attended public schools in Pleasantville and Whitehall before earning a B.A. degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and graduating from the Brown School of Broadcasting in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Gunderson served in the Wisconsin State Assembly from 1975 to 1979 and as the legislative director for U.S. Representative Toby Roth from 1979 to 1980 before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1980, to represent Wisconsin's 3rd congressional district. First elected to the 97th Congress, he served eight terms in the House and did not seek re-election to the 105th Congress in 1996.
In 1994, Gunderson was outed as gay on the House floor by representative Bob Dornan (R-CA) during a debate over federal funding for gay-friendly curricula, making him one of the first openly gay members of Congress and the first openly gay Republican representative. In 1996, Gunderson was the only Republican in Congress to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act, and he has been a vocal supporter of gay rights causes since leaving Congress. During his time in the House, Gunderson was one of only two openly gay Republicans serving in Congress, the other being Jim Kolbe of Arizona.
Gunderson advocated for expedited immigration rights to the Hmong people, who had been allied with U.S. war efforts during the Vietnam War and later faced persecution under the Communist government of Laos. Republicans also called several congressional hearings on alleged persecution of the Hmong in Laos in an apparent attempt to generate further support for their opposition to the Hmong's repatriation to Laos. Led by Gunderson and other Hmong advocates in Congress, the Clinton administration's policy of forced repatriation of the Hmong was ultimately overturned and thousands were granted U.S. immigration rights.
After leaving Congress, Gunderson served as President and CEO of the Council on Foundations. He was appointed by President Barack Obama to the President's Commission on White House Fellows in January 2010. Gunderson currently serves as president and CEO of the Career Education Colleges and Universities.