In a historic day for the LGBT community, California’s first openly gay Assembly speaker was sworn in to office in Sacramento early Monday afternoon.
Democrat John A. Pérez, a first-term legislator representing parts of downtown L.A. and East Los Angeles, will face as one of his first tasks the challenge of preserving social programs for his political base as the state struggles with a roughly $20-billion budget deficit.
The Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles sang “God Bless America” and “Brand New Day” from “The Wiz.”
In his speech, Perez noted gay and lesbian politicians that came before him, and said his achievements would not be possible if not for “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.”
“Speaker Pérez is a role model and an inspiration to the LGBT community, especially to LGBT youth struggling to find acceptance at home and in school. We wish him the very best of luck as he embarks on this momentous journey and look forward to continuing our partnership with him in our mission to achieve full equality for LGBT Californians,” said Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California.
Assembly Speaker is considered the second most powerful position in California politics. Democratic members of the House elected Pérez unanimously in December of last year.