California's first openly gay Assembly speaker was sworn in on Monday, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

After taking the oath, Assemblyman John Perez, a Los Angeles Democrat, paid tribute to the gay and lesbian Californian politicians that came before him, saying his achievements would not be possible if not for “people like Elaine Noble, Harvey Milk and Sheila James Kuehl, who blazed a trail of pride and purpose for gay and lesbian Californians to serve our state.”

The Assembly's Democratic caucus unanimously agreed to support Perez, 40, in December. He was elected to the post in a 48 to 26 vote split mainly along party lines in January.

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.

Perez's ascension comes during his first term – a meteoric rise that caught many off guard – which gives the Latino politician the possibility of serving for almost five years, an unusually long tenure for a state that limits service.

In introducing Perez, Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, a Democrat from Los Angeles, said Perez's election “sends a signal to the nation that being gay no longer is a barrier to greatness, and that in California we believe in human rights, civil rights and equal rights.”