Brown becomes first openly LGBT governor elected
Oregon Governor Kate Brown made history on election night, becoming the first openly LGBT person elected governor.
A Victory Fund candidate, Kate had been serving as governor since 2015 following the resignation of Gov. John Kitzhaber. Her surprise governorship followed two decades as an elected official, serving one term in the state House and two in the state Senate. Kate was elected Washington’s Secretary of State in 2008 and re-elected in 2012, becoming one of the first openly LGBT statewide elected officials in the country.
In early 2015 Gov. John Kitzhaber, the longest serving Governor of Oregon, resigned after news broke of a criminal investigation involving his fiancée illegally using her position as first lady to benefit her private business. Following his resignation, Brown was next in the line of succession. Just five days later she was sworn in as Oregon’s governor to finish the remaining two years of his term.
Kate, who's been married to her husband Dan Little for nearly 20 years, was outed by The Oregonian in the mid-90s. At a commencement address at Willamette University this spring, Kate told graduates about the unique position she's in as the nation's only openly LGBT governor:
And on the day I was sworn in as Oregon's 38th governor, I experienced what it was like to be labeled, to have my first two decades of public service eclipsed by a single phrase: The nation's first openly bisexual governor. It was a phrase that appeared after my name in virtually every single headline around the world.
Known for her personable attitude and political savvy, Kate's accomplishments as governor include increasing Oregon’s minimum wage, expanding paid sick leave, phasing out the use of coal in power plants, banning LGBT conversion therapy for minors, and implementing the nation's most robust DMV voter registration law.
Kate is the first openly LGBT person to win election to a governorship. In 2014 Mike Michaud ran for Governor of Maine and came out as gay after being pressured by rumors during his candidacy. Michaud lost by only five percent.