On Wednesday, Secretary of State Kate Brown, took office as the new governor of Oregon, making her the first openly bi-sexual governor of any state in US history. She replaces Governor John Kitzhaber who issued his resignation in the wake of accusations around his fiancée Sylvia Hayes’ allegedly brokering power and influence under his watch. By state law the Secretary becomes Governor in the wake of a vacancy. Oregon does not have a lieutenant governor.
Many representing the gay community have applauded the appointment claiming Brown will give visibility to the Lesbian,Gay,Bi-sexual,Transgender and Queer community. In an interview with Austen Fisher, a student here at Southern Oregon University, many questions were discussed regarding Kate Brown and her open sexuality. He says over time, “society always kind of leans to the left”. He thinks Americans will start moving toward a more open and accepting culture, “Our generation is kind of done judging people based on race, gender, and sexual preference.”
When asked if he feels Brown will benefit the LGBT community, he responded, “I think, understandably so, that there is a sense of understanding, relief and hope for them as a community. Knowing that someone who is bisexual …. gives them hope.” He imagines that she will be able to put the fight for equality at the forefront of politics, “Just the fact that she has been elected means she will take steps to get the rest of our culture up to par with the equality movement.” She was elected as Secretary of State in 2008 and again in 2012 and was just sworn in on the 18th of February in the wake of Governor Kitzhaber’s influence peddling scandal.
Some are curious about the level of comfort in knowing that she is openly bisexual. Fisher stated, “I feel more comfortable. Not in the sense that I prefer it, but I do not care what a politician’s sexual preference is. If they can lead, they can lead and I will vote based on their ability to lead. It gives me relief that America is keeping up with the rest of the world. I think our generation will change things.”
Had she not been outed, would it have made a difference in her politics? Fisher felt that honesty and openness was a huge aspect missing from most politics, “Unfortunately in this country, I feel a lot of people have to lie or hide behind a mask in order to get ahead in their career. “
“It definitely shows a cultural shift.” stated Fisher.