California's First Openly Gay Governor: 'I Wish My Parents Could See This'

Assembly speaker Toni AtkinsAPCA Assembly speaker Toni Atkins

California State Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D) is serving as acting governor for about eight hours Wednesday, making her the state’s first openly gay governor. In a statement to Business Insider, Atkins shared her thoughts about the historic moment.

“I wish my parents could see this. Now I know that may sound hokey to many. But honestly, this is what is going through my mind,” she said.

Atkins’ will be acting governor until Gov. Jerry Brown (D) returns from a trade mission in Mexico. This makes Atkins the second openly gay governor to serve nationwide, the first, New Jersey Gov. James McGreevy, resigned shortly after coming out as gay following reports about his relationship with a male staffer in 2004.

In her statement, Atkins described her experience as part of the “California Dream.”

“I recognise that my short time as Acting Governor will probably prove to be uneventful (and I hope it will be uneventful!). But I’m also thinking today about how a young girl who grew up in poverty in Virginia ends up as Speaker and therefore gets the opportunity to be Acting Governor. What that says about our opportunities as Americans and our democracy are profound,” said Atkins. “And I will continue to spend my time as a legislator in this great state ensuring that all California kids have access to that American Dream – the California Dream – by supporting access to health care, affordable housing and educational opportunities.”

Atkins also said she was “so grateful” to Brown.

“If Governor Brown wants a few more days away I’m here for him!” she said.

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