California nominates first openly gay Assembly Speaker

Assemblymember John A. Perez of California's 46th District.
Assemblymember John A. Perez of California's 46th District. Assemblymember John A. Perez Web site

In Sacramento today California State Assembly Democrats picked their next leader. They nominated Los Angeles Democrat John Perez to become Speaker some time next year. When Perez takes up that post he’ll become California’s first openly gay Speaker.

Los Angeles Democrat Assemblyman John Perez will assume a heavy burden as California’s next speaker. Perez said his caucus is already "Making sure that our collective effort is focused on the economic recovery of the state and on dealing with a very serious budget situation that is facing the state."

On top of inheriting California’s multi-billion dollar deficit problem, Perez will be California’s first openly gay Speaker. He’s already responding to questions on the significance of that.

"I think it says more about California than it does about me" Perez said. "It means that California is a place where everybody has a seat at the table."

A seat - but not a marriage license.

Perez hopes to change that.

In a video on his Assembly website Perez denounced the California Supreme Court’s ruling this year that upheld Proposition 8’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage. Perez also said too many employers in the state still deny benefits to same-sex partners.

On the video Perez said, “We’re fighting for a dream shared by any oppressed minority group to be free to live one’s life without unjust interference, to be treated with dignity and respect and to be equal in the eyes of others and the law.”

For now, Perez will be the first Assembly Speaker in California history who’s unable to marry the partner of his choice.

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