As Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber steps down in shame, Secretary of State Kate Brown steps up to make history as the first openly bisexual governor in the United States. Brown is slated to take over as governor of Oregon on Wednesday after John Kitzhaber submitted his resignation amid corruption charges involving his fiancée, Cylvia Hayes.
Brown has been in politics since the early nineties, when she was appointed to the Oregon House following the resignation of Rep. Judy Bauman, who left to take another executive position. Slate reports that Brown was forced to come out as bisexual after an Oregon newspaper published her sexual preference when she was elected to the Oregon House. In 1997, Brown left the House when she won a seat in the Oregon Senate. In 2008, she served as the first woman Senate majority leader.
Throughout her political career, Brown has enjoyed support from the LGBT community. Her ascension to the Governor’s seat should garner even more support, despite the challenges Brown feels gay, lesbian, and bisexual lawmakers face.
The Atlantic cites an essay Brown wrote for a collection about and by LGBT lawmakers.
“I believe it was during my early 30’s that I figured out who, or what, I am. But it wasn’t until it was written in the Oregonian newspaper that I was bisexual that I had to face the inevitable and let those around me know … Some days I feel like I have a foot in both worlds, yet never really belonging to either.”
Slate quotes Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin as saying that “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.”
Despite such optimism, the new governor already is facing controversy. Brown recently has received criticism over signing a letter in support the Comcast-Time Warner merger that was reportedly written by a Comcast lobbyist. Comcast had contributed $9,500 to Brown’s campaigns since 2009, according to the Washington Post.
Still, the real question is what kind of governor Kate Brown will be. Brown touts her efforts to increase transparency and to combat corruption as a hallmark of her time as Secretary of State. Although her style as Secretary of State was low-key, Brown will have a chance to make history as the first sitting bisexual governor in America.
[Image: Kate Brown]