The California Assembly elected its first openly gay speaker on Thursday, Assemblyman John Perez, a Latino Democrat from Los Angeles, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The chamber's Democratic caucus unanimously agreed to support Perez, 40, last month. The 48 to 26 vote split mainly along party lines.

Perez's ascension comes during his first term, an unusually fast rise that has caught many off guard.

“I can tell you he's ready,” Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, a Democrat from Baldwin Vista, said last month. “He doesn't walk into this job as if this is the first thing he's ever done – he has decades of experience serving in many leadership capacities.”

After his selection, lawmakers from both parties showered Perez with a standing ovation.

“Thank you very much,” Perez said in a brief speech. “Now let's get back to work.”

Instead of voting for Perez, Republicans nominated caucus leader Sam Blakeslee as speaker. The nomination was purely symbolic since Democrats, who outnumber Republicans, had already signaled they were united behind Perez.

Openly gay Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, a Democrat from San Francisco, spoke on the historic nature of the selection.

“As a fellow member of the LGBT caucus, I know I speak for the community when I say what a significant day this is, to live long enough to see this ascension,” Ammiano said.

“This is a real mitzvah,” he added.