Metro Weekly

Oregon Lawmaker Becomes First Out Lesbian Speaker

Oregon became the first state to elect an out lesbian speaker of a state legislature on Thursday in what was another victory for LGBT candidates on the state level.

Tina Kotek.jpg

State Rep. Tina Kotek was elected by her fellow Democrats as speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives yesterday. Although Kotek’s election must be formally ratified when the Legislature convenes in January, the Democratic majority all but guarantees Kotek will find herself as the first out lesbian to ever lead a chamber of a state legislature in the country.

As the second most powerful Democratic leader in the House after Republicans lost their majority in 2011, many suspected she would ascend to speaker.

According to the Associated Press, Kotek said her goal was not to make history, but that she appreciates the leadership role she now plays in the LGBT community.

“We all look for people out there who look like us,” she told the AP. “I have had emails and text messages from people who are very excited.”

First elected to the House in 2006, Kotek lives with her partner, Aimee Wilson, in Portland.

Kotek’s election is part of a broader series of victories that saw more than 110 LGBT candidates win at the state and local level. Like many of those candidates, Kotek was backed by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund.

[Photo: Tina Kotek (Courtesy of the Oregon House of Representatives).]

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