Friday, December 11, 2009
Assemblyman John Pérez, an openly gay Latino Democrat from Los Angeles, made history Thursday when he was unanimously chosen by the Assembly's Democratic Caucus to succeed Karen Bass as the lower house's leader.
Pérez, a freshman lawmaker who is expected to be formally voted in as the 68th Assembly speaker in January, will become the body's first openly gay leader. The Los Angeles-raised UC Berkeley graduate will inherit a mountain of challenges, in particular the state's staggering projected $20.7 billion deficit through June 2011.
"It's obviously an incredibly moving experience to have the unanimous support of my colleagues," Pérez, 40, said shortly after the caucus vote. "I think it says more about California than it does about me - it means that California is a place where everybody has a seat at the table, that we're a state where everybody brings forward their contributions."
Advocates for the gay community immediately praised Pérez's election, calling it a historic moment for not just the state but for the nation. Photos
"It's very, very poignant," said Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, who is also gay. "I was a personal friend of (slain San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk) and to live long enough to see this is very significant. ... Like Milk said, you have to give them hope, and I think what happened today is going to give people hope." Read complete article - By Marisa Lagos, Chronicle Sacramento Bureau - San Francisco Chronicle