Former lawmaker Jarrett Barrios will take the helm at the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, GLAAD announced Wednesday.

The former Massachusetts state senator will step down as president of the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Foundation of Massachusetts, the job he took after leaving the Legislature, to become president of GLAAD.

Barrios is the first Latino to head the gay rights group, and, at forty, the youngest.

“We're making progress toward equality, but we'll only achieve full equality if we change hearts and minds – and that's what GLAAD is all about,” Barrios said in a statement. “We're working for the day when every one of us is accepted, respected and valued for the contributions we make to this country. It's an ambitious goal, but I know we can do it. I believe in our community, and I believe in our country.”

Barrios is married to political consultant Doug Hattaway and the couple are raising two teenage sons.

“Jarrett is an inspiring new voice for the national movement,” said Yvette Burton, co-chair of GLAAD's Board of Directors. “As a Latino and a parent, he will build bridges among communities. He is also an accomplished progressive leader and activist with the talent and experience to take GLAAD and our movement to new heights.”

Barrios helped defeat a conservative push to ban gay marriage in Massachusetts after the state Supreme Court allowed gay and lesbian couples to marry in 2003.

He will replace Neil G. Giuliano, who has held the position since 2005, in September.