OLYMPIA, Wash. — State Sen. Ed Murray (D-Seattle) will become just the second openly LGBT person to lead a state senate chamber after his Democratic colleagues on Tuesday night chose him as majority leader of the Washington State Senate.
Murray, 57, was first elected to the Senate in 2006 after serving 11 years in the Wash. House of Representatives. He was a leading voice in favor of passage of the state’s marriage equality bill, which voters affirmed last week.
“We have work to do in Olympia – prioritizing education, creating jobs for the middle class, and ensuring Washingtonians have the health care they need. And one of our challenges in a closely divided chamber is to ensure that the Senate is able to fulfill its obligation to govern the state, in tandem with Gov.-elect Jay Inslee and the House. These are not simple challenges, but they are solvable. We can find solutions that work for all of Washington,” Murray said in a release last night.
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“We congratulate Sen. Murray for this wonderful recognition of his leadership skills and dedication to the people of Washington. He has proven that openly LGBT Americans have much to offer their communities as leaders and representatives, and his commitment to open and honest public service has set an example for LGBT youth,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund.
Murray joins Assembly Speaker John Perez in California, House Speaker Gordon D. Fox in Rhode Island and incoming House Speaker Mark Ferrandino in Colorado as the only currently serving openly gay legislators to land their chambers’ top jobs. In Oregon, out lesbian Rep. Tina Kotek is expected to be elected Speaker of the House this week after Democrats won control in last week’s elections.
The first openly gay State Senate leader was the late Allan Spear of Minnesota. He was first elected to the Minnesota Senate in 1972 and came out as gay in 1974. Spear served a total of 28 years in the senate, retiring in 2000. He was President of the Senate from 1992 to 2000.