Assembly members in California are expected to pick a gay assemblyman as speaker, the Sacramento Bee reported.

The paper is reporting that Assemblyman Kevin de Leon has agreed to step aside and allow openly gay Assemblyman John A. Perez, a Democrat from Los Angeles, to be selected Assembly speaker. Gay weekly Bay Area Reporter is reporting that sources have confirmed that Perez has the votes necessary to win the post.

De Leon was widely believed to be the front-runner for the position, but had failed to gain sufficient support from key Democrats.

If united behind a single candidate, Democrats, who hold a majority in the chamber, do not need GOP support.

Gay activists in the state hailed Perez's ascension from first-term Assemblyman to speaker.

“With California as well as the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community facing significant challenges, including the decimation of HIV/AIDS services by the governor, this possibility fills our community with great hope,” Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California, said in a statement before De Leon's apparent concession.

“As the first LGBT Speaker in our state, Assemblymember Perez would serve as an incredible role model to LGBT youth and for every community member who has faced obstacles simply because of who they are,” he added.

A timetable on selecting a new speaker has yet to emerge but a vote is possible when Democrats meet on Thursday.

If elected speaker, Perez would become one of the nation's most powerful and visible gay politicians.