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February 20, 2015

Scandal brings in first out bisexual governor

Salem, Ore.--With the resignation on February 13 of four-time Gov. John Kitzhaber, Secretary of State Kate Brown will ascend to the governor’s mansion, becoming the first out bisexual governor in the nation.

In Oregon, the secretary of state is next in line if the governor leaves office according to constitutional succession rules. Brown was already the first out bisexual in an elected statewide office, according to the Victory Fund.

Brown was first appointed to the Oregon House of Representatives in November 1991, elected a year later and reelected in 1994. She moved to the state senate in 1996, becoming the Democratic Senate Leader in 1998 and gaining two more terms in 2000 and 2004, when she was elected Senate Majority Leader.

In 1992, in an essay she wrote for OutHistory.org’s “Out and Elected in the USA,” she wrote, “I believe it was during my early 30s that I figured out who, or what, I am. But it wasn’t until it was written in the Oregonian newspaper that I was bisexual that I had to face the inevitable and let those around me know.”

Her parents told her, “It would be much easier for us if you were a lesbian,” while her gay friends called her “half-queer.”

While coming out to her legislative colleagues was a frightening prospect, it had some unintentionally humorous moments, like when a septuagenarian, extremely conservative colleague told her he had read the article that said she was bisexual. “Guess that means I still have a chance?” he asked.

Hopefully, he was joking.

The scandal that took down Kitzhaber involves questions about whether his fiancée, Cylvia Hayes, benefited financially by advising the governor on clean energy issues while also being a consultant on them.

The state attorney general, Ellen Rosenblum, is investigating the allegations, and the U.S. Attorney’s office subpoenaed over 6,000 emails from the couple going back years.

The state government in Oregon is overwhelmingly Democratic, so it was not a partisan scandal, and all the players are Democrats. However, the suggestion of impropriety had a good number of Kitzhaber’s colleagues either distancing themselves or calling for his resignation outright.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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