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Oregon's Groundbreaking LGBT Leadership

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With the new year, Oregon will see a new level of LGBT leadership in the state. A moment after the new year began, Portland became the largest city in the United States with an openly-gay mayor.

Sam Adams has a history of work in the city, having been Chief of Staff to former Mayor Vera Katz for 11 years, before being elected to the City Council in 2004. Mayor Adams won election seven months ago, in a race where his sexual orientation was never an issue raised by his opponents.

"This is a testament to how fair-minded Portlanders are that it wasn't an issue," Adams said. "I spend my time on the basic issues of life. A part of that includes equal rights, but that's not even close to a majority of the time."

On January 5, State Senator Kate Brown, who is openly bisexual, will be sworn in as Secretary of State of Oregon. Because Oregon has no Lieutenant Governor, Brown will effectively hold the second highest elective office in the entire state.

Also on the 5th, Silverton, Oregon City Councilman Stu Rasmussen, who is transgender, will become Mayor.

In the State House of Representatives, openly gay Representative Tina Koteck has been chosen by her colleagues to be Deputy Majority Whip in the upcoming legislative session.

Oregon also has two (out of seven) openly gay supreme court justices.

Beyond the remarkable leadership of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender leaders in the state of Oregon; it is noteworthy to point out the media’s discussion of these elected officials. Across the board, the mainstream media in Oregon treats the issue of sexual orientation and gender identity of candidates for office fairly.

The media, by and large, has been judicious in covering the issue of a candidate’s sexual orientation or gender identity without a sensational approach. Oregon sets an example for media outlets everywhere on how to cover LGBT candidates for office.