Out lesbian sworn in as Oregon House Speaker

kotek-209x300Tina Kotek (D-Portland) today became the first out lesbian to lead a state legislative chamber in U.S. history when she was sworn in as speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives.  Former Governor Barbara Roberts, Oregon’s only female governor, presided over the swearing-in ceremony.

During her first address to the House chamber, Kotek emphasized the importance of inclusion and dialogue: “As our state continues to tackle the task of economic recovery, our focus must be on the priorities that matter most to Oregonians. Oregonians are expecting us to listen well, listen to everyone, and find solutions through challenging, but productive discussions.”

Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund, said the milestone is an important one for the LGBT community. “This is a fantastic moment.  We need more out women leaders to consider public service and add their voices to the public debate.  Outstanding leaders like Speaker Kotek can inspire women and girls to believe they too can serve in elective office, represent their communities, lead their colleagues and live authentic lives,” said Wolfe.

As she took the oath of office, Kotek was joined on stage by her partner, Aimee Wilson.

Photo: Associated Press

Anti-gay group tries to salvage petition against Oregon domestic partnerships

The anti-gay Alliance Defense Fund of Scottsdale, Ariz., argued before the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday in an attempt to force a statewide vote on Oregon’s new domestic partnership law.

The court, which will rule within approximately 30 days, will determine whether elections officials were justified in their disqualification of the many of the ADF’s petition signatures. If the court rules in the group’s favor, the matter will not go directly to the ballot — it will be thrown to a lower court.

The Statesman Journal reports:

One couple heard the arguments at the historic Pioneer Courthouse with more than a passing interest.

“This is a case that is not about gay rights,” said Leila Wrathall of Portland. “It is about whether they are going to validate the method which the secretary of state’s office uses to ensure that signatures are valid. We’re hoping that the court will uphold that.”

More than 30 voters sued Secretary of State Bill Bradbury and elections officials from 10 counties, who determined that opponents fell just short of the 55,179 signatures required to call a statewide election.

“They didn’t get enough signatures — that’s the point,” said Cathy Travis, Wrathall’s partner. “That’s very encouraging in terms of Oregon and gay rights, although that’s not what this argument was about. But it’s nice to know there is a process. You cannot fall short of signatures, then force everyone to spend a lot of money to determine whether we should get the rights we deserve.”

Sam Adams elected mayor of Portland, Oregon

adamsgp.jpgLast night, Portland elected Sam Adams its mayor, making him the nation’s first openly gay mayor of a top 30 U.S. city. After finishing last night’s election with 58 percent of the vote, Adams was automatically declared the winner, avoiding having to go to the general election. Also, Kate Brown won her Democratic primary for Oregon secretary of state, proceeding to the general election in November.

“In Oregon, fairness has won the day. These victories mean that people who are openly gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender can also be seen as capable, committed leaders whose sexual orientation or gender identity is less important than what they plan to do for their communities. That’s a step toward full equality that we want to replicate across America,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund.

Adams defeated 12 other candidates in the election, most notably local businessman Sho Dozono.

The Oregonian reports:

Adams, 44, won by stressing specifics: He promised to work with school leaders to cut the dropout rate, make Portland a leader in environmentally friendly businesses and use the Portland Streetcar and better planning to spur urban renewal.

In a speech at the Jupiter Hotel, the mayor-elect sounded ready to get to work.

“I will work hard with all of you, and believe me you’re going to be working hard as well,” he told a crowd that included his mother, grandmother and two sisters. “Together we can make Portland cleaner, greener, more sustainable, smarter, more equal, better educated.

“We’ve done it before, and we will do it again.”

Watch Adams’ victory speech below:

Sam Adams victory speech

browngp.jpgAlso in Oregon, State Senator Kate Brown won a decisive victory in her Democratic primary for Oregon secretary of state. She faces a political novice in the general election. If elected, Brown would become the nation’s highest ranking openly bisexual elected official.

In addition, Victory Fund-endorsed candidates in Arkansas advanced in their elections. Alice Lightle and Gary Sullivan both gained enough votes to proceed to run-offs.

Sam Adams feeds his chickens

And explains why he wants to be the next mayor of Portland, Oregon in his new campaign video.

To support Sam’s campaign, click here.

Statesman Journal endorses Brown for secretary of state

brown.jpgThe Statesman Journal in Salem has endorsed Kate Brown in her bid to become Oregon’s secretary of state.

In a glowing endorsement, the paper mentioned that Brown’s priorities would include cracking down on fraud and abuse in the initiative system and to motivate young people to vote when they become of age.

The paper writes:

Her nine years as Senate majority leader gave her experience in working with colleagues, other elected officials and everyday Oregonians. She demonstrated a keen understanding of state issues and the pragmatic ability to negotiate compromises.

Most of all, she proved she could get results. She played a key role in passing major pieces of legislation. She would apply the same intelligence and skill to the job she seeks.

To support Kate’s campaign, click here.