Oregon House Democrats voted Thursday to make Rep. Tina Kotek of Portland the nation's first openly lesbian woman to lead a state legislative chamber, another milestone from an election that brought a series of victories to the gay community.
Kotek as House speaker is almost a certainty, but her speakership still has to be formally ratified in January.
With the selection of Kotek, openly gay leaders will control the House or Senate in five of the 50 states — more than ever before, and up from two before last week's election, according to the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund.
"For many years we were building a bench of openly gay officials who could step into those roles, and now we're seeing that around the country," said Denis Dison, a spokesman for the Victory Fund, a national group that helps gay candidates get elected to offices at all levels.
The organization backed 180 candidates this year, and 122 of them won, Dison said.