With her fiancée by her side, Jackie Biskupski was sworn in today as mayor of Salt Lake City in what she called a “historic moment for equality.”
Biskupski, elected in November, is the first LGBT person and only the second woman to be mayor of Utah’s capital and largest city, an increasingly liberal metropolis in the deeply conservative, heavily Mormon state.
“As your new mayor, I commit to building an inclusive and welcoming city worthy of the unique history and legacy of this place we call home,” Biskupski told the crowd of hundreds gathered outside City Hall, reports The Salt Lake Tribune.
Biskupski, who shared an embrace with fiancée Betty Iverson (above right) at the ceremony, acknowledged the groundbreaking nature of her ascension to the office. The day marks a “historic moment for equality that no one should take lightly,” she said, adding, “We have work to do still. We must pursue equality for everyone.”
She also laid out her other priorities as mayor: improving the city’s air quality, reducing homelessness, and attracting business.
“As a community we have nothing more in common than the air we breathe, and the air we are breathing here in Salt Lake City is simply unacceptable,” she said, according to TV station KSTU.
Biskupski made history once before, as the first openly LGBT member of the Utah legislature. She was elected to the state House in 1998 and served seven terms. She has also been an aide to Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder.
She bested incumbent Ralph Becker in a close race for mayor. Both are liberal Democrats; elections for Salt Lake City offices are nonpartisan.
As Biskupski was sworn in, another prominent lesbian politician left office. Mayor Annise Parker of Houston was term-limited; her successor, Sylvester Turner, took the oath of office today. He supported the city's now-repealed equal rights ordinance, but whether he will try to revive it is uncertain.
Back in Salt Lake City, also sworn in today was the City Council’s second openly gay member, Derek Kitchen, a plaintiff in the lawsuit that brought marriage equality to Utah. Another gay man, Stan Penfold, continues to serve on the council.
“We're so excited to have Mayor Biskupski and council members Derek Kitchen and Stan Penfold,” Troy Williams, executive director of the LGBT rights group Equality Utah, told KSTU. “It’s great for the gay community, for people to see our community stepping forward and serving the public.”
Watch the station’s report below.