February 18, 2015 at 1:07 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Kate Brown becomes country’s first openly bisexual governor
Kate Brown, gay news, Washington Blade

Kate Brown on Feb. 18, 2015, was sworn in as Oregon’s next governor. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The country’s first openly bisexual governor took office on Wednesday.

Oregon Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Balmer administered the oath of office to Kate Brown during a ceremony that took place on the floor of the state House of Representatives.

Brown, who had been Oregon’s secretary of state, succeeds John Kitzhaber who resigned on Feb. 13 amid a growing influence-peddling scandal that involves him and his fiancée.

She officially took office at 7 a.m. local time after Kitzhaber’s resignation took effect.

Out House Speaker Tina Kotek in a statement acknowledged her state “has again made history as a leader in equality” with Brown “now serving as the nation’s first governor from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.”

“As the legislative session moves ahead, I look forward to working with Gov. Brown to support strong schools, balance our budget, tend to our pressing transportation needs and expand opportunity for all Oregonians,” said Kotek.

Robyn Ochs, a bisexual advocate and writer who is a MassEquality board member, also weighed in on Brown’s swearing in.

“On one level, her sexual orientation is of minor importance,” Ochs told the Washington Blade shortly after Brown took office. “The most important question is whether she will be a good governor, and I expect that she will be.”

“But on another level we are making history,” she added. “Kate Brown is now the highest ranking out bisexual (or LGBT) person ever elected to public office. As someone who has identified as bisexual for almost 40 years, this is a significant step forward and I am celebrating.”

Faith Cheltenham, president of BiNet USA, echoed Ochs.

“Kate Brown’s swearing in as governor of the state of Oregon comes at a critical time for bisexual people,” Cheltenham told the Blade. “We need to see role models just like her and we need to hear stories about people just like us. We are a strong, resilient and tenacious people with a history of organizing ourselves over 50 years deep. It’s time we saw ourselves in the light of our tremendous history and shared common experience.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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