The California Assembly elected its
first openly gay speaker on Thursday, Assemblyman John Perez, a
Latino Democrat from Los Angeles, the San Francisco Chronicle
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
“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,”
“This is a real mitzvah,” he added.