On January 1, Sam Adams, Portland's
first gay mayor, will be sworn into office, after waiting in the
wings since he won the primary in May.
That's a long time to wait, but it's
only possible because City Commissioner Sam Adams won a majority vote
(59%) over several opponents in a mail-only primary. In Portland, a
candidate with a majority vote is immediately deemed the winner.
Adams becomes the first openly gay
mayor to run one of the 30 largest cities in the United States.
Adams, a Democrat, was endorsed in his
bid by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, a group committed to
increasing the number of openly GLBT elected officials at all levels
A first-term city commissioner, Adams
said he was shocked by the results. In a morning press conference
where he discussed his victory call from former mayor Vera Katz,
under whom he served 11 years as Chief of Staff, he said, “I talked
to her at about 7:30, and she's like, 'WOW 58 percent. Can you
believe it?' I'm like, no I can't believe it. She's like,
'congratulations mayor-elect'. And I said, that sounds so bizarre
coming from you, but thank you.”
Sexual orientation appeared to be a
non-issue in local media coverage.
Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund
President & CEO Chuck Wolfe said, “In Oregon, fairness has won
the day. [The election of Sam Adams as mayor] means that people who
are openly gay lesbian, bisexual, or transgender can also be seen as
capable, committed leaders whose sexual orientation or gender
identity is less important than what they plan to do for their
communities. That's a step towards full equality we want to
replicate across America.”
Wolfe called 2008 a “watershed
election” for gay candidates. Openly gay state representatives and
senators increased by forty seats nationwide in November's election.
In Colorado, Democrat Jared Polis won his Congressional House bid to
become the first openly gay male representative to Congress.
(Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank confirmed he's gay while
serving his second term.)
“Our government became more
representative and our democracy became stronger,” Wolfe said. “As
we near the 30th anniversary of the death of Harvey Milk,
it's enormously gratifying to see this dream realized in so many
brave men and women heeding the call to run for office, and doing so
openly, honestly and unafraid.”
Several high-profile cities are
currently headed by gay mayors, Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit and Paris
Mayor Bertrand Delanoe included. Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against
Defamation (GLAAD) President Neil Giuliano is the former mayor of
The Oregonian describes Adams as
a self-described wonk who “has a thing about numbers.”