08:23 | 26th April 2019

News: World

Tue 2 Mar, 2010
By Danielle Carter

“I am feeling a great deal of pride”

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California's first openly gay speaker sworn in

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In a historic day for the LGBT community, John A. Perez was sworn in Monday as California’s first openly gay assembly speaker.

“I am feeling a great deal of pride,” said state Sen. Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego, who attended the ceremony.

Kehoe said the chambers and gallery were packed with well-wishers, including key members of the LGBT community.

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles sang “God Bless America” and “Brand New Day” from "The Wiz."

Carlos Moreno, associate justice of the California Supreme Court, swore in Perez. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was on the dais, and dignitaries including former Speaker Willie Brown. Perez’s cousin, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, was also in attendance along with friends and family members.

In his speech, Perez paid tribute to the gay and lesbian politicians who preceded him. He lauded "people like Elaine Noble, Harvey Milk and Sheila James Kuehl, who blazed a trail of pride and purpose for gay and lesbian Californians to serve our state."

Kehoe noted the important role that Perez will play in Sacramento.

“It’s a very powerful position,” she said. “It’s a wonderful symbol at a time when LGBT civil rights issues are in full-blown discussion – from the military (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy) to full marriage equality for all.”

Kehoe also said that Perez and the Assembly will have a great deal of work to do trying to balance the state budget and facing the usual challenges of government over education, prison reform and health care.

“Perez will see it all through the eyes of someone who has experienced life as a Latino and as a gay man,” Kehoe said. “I think he will be more compassionate and caring as a result of those experiences.”


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