- The Magazine
Oregon’s Secretary of State Kate Brown, who is openly bisexual, will become the first LGBT governor in the nation next week after Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) effectively resigns on Wednesday, Feb. 18. Kitzhaber, now in his fourth term as governor, announced plans to resign on Friday after members of his own party, Oregon media outlets and outraged constituents called for him to resign in the wake of an influence-peddling scandal involving his longtime girlfriend and fiancee, Cylvia Hayes. Hayes is accused of using her relationship with the governor to win consulting contracts with the state while also advising Kitzhaber, creating a conflict of interest.
Brown is next in line to assume the governorship, as Oregon does not have a lieutenant governor. Brown served in the Oregon House of Representatives for three terms after being appointed in 1991. She was then elected to the Oregon Senate in 1996, serving for three terms and eventually becoming the first woman to be elected by her colleagues as Senate Majority Leader. Brown, elected to her current position in 2008 and re-elected in 2012, became the focus of much speculation as the scandal around Kitzhaber grew, especially after she abruptly left a conference in Washington, D.C. to fly back to Oregon for a face-to-face meeting with the governor as part of what she later called “a bizarre and unprecedented situation.”
In response to news of Kitzhaber’s planned resignation, the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT rights organization, released a statement praising soon-to-be Gov. Brown.
“Few are better prepared to lead the great state of Oregon than Kate Brown,” HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement. “She’s a known commodity to Oregonians with a distinguished record of service over two decades. And while she’ll make history as the nation’s first sitting LGBT governor, the more important truth is that she’s supremely capable of leading the state to better days ahead.”
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