For eight hours today, California will have its first openly gay governor.
State Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D) will serve as acting governor until tonight, when Gov. Jerry Brown (D) returns from a trade mission in Mexico. Atkins is one of four officials who served as governor this week in California, following Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), who left for a Special Olympics event, and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D), who departed the state Wednesday morning for Chicago.
Atkins also served as the first openly lesbian mayor of San Diego in 2005, and as the first openly lesbian Assembly speaker, which is the position she currently holds. She is also the third woman to hold the high post.
CBS Sacramento reported on Atkins’ appearance at a women’s conference in Sacramento last month, where she spoke about the road towards higher tolerance for the U.S. LGBT community. She also discussed the intolerance that still exists among American leaders, saying to Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), who has equated homosexuality with alcoholism, “I’m not addicted to anything except coffee.”
The United States has yet to elect an openly gay governor, according to the Washington Post. However, Atkins will be the second openly gay person to serve as a governor after New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey (D), who was not out at the time of his election, and whose resignation at the end of 2004 was tied to his decision to come out that August.
Atkins’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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