Saturday, February 14, 2015

Oregon set to have nation's first openly serving LGBT governor

Brown's ascension the latest step forward for LGBT rights

The state of Oregon is set to have the first openly serving LGBT governor in America’s history.

After being embroiled in controversy, current Gov. John Kitzhaber has announced he will step down from office. He will be replaced by Secretary of State Kate Brown, a Democratic official who identifies as bisexual.

Brown was outed in the early 1990s under circumstances she described as “a forced coming out.”

“It was probably good that it happened,” Brown said of the incident, “but it wasn't sort of in my own terms and in my own timeline.”

First elected Secretary of State in 2008, Brown will assume the office of governor on Wednesday when Kitzhaber will officially resign.

Many are already praising Brown’s ascension to the state’s executive office. Human Rights Campaign had the following to say:
Few are better prepared to lead the great state of Oregon than Kate Brown. She's a known commodity to Oregonians with a distinguished record of service of over two decades. And while she'll make history as the nation's first sitting LGBT governor, the more important truth is that she's supremely capable of leading the state to better days ahead.
Brown will become the first open LGBT governor to serve in office. Former governor of New Jersey Jim McGreevey announced he is gay on the same day he said he was stepping down from office.

Wisconsin’s Tammy Baldwin successfully ran for an open U.S. Senate seat in 2012, becoming the first open lesbian senator elected to office in doing so. If Brown wishes to be the first LGBT governor elected to office she will have to wait until 2018, when the next Oregon gubernatorial election will occur.

This is set to become another milestone year for LGBT rights. Last year, several state constitutional provisions and laws prohibiting the marriage of same-sex couples were found to be unconstitutional in federal courts across the country. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on appeals to those decisions later this year.

All indications from the Court, including those that oppose marriage equality, suggest that the justices will rule in favor of gay and lesbian couples.

As well they should.

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