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Gay-friendly
governor takes office in Massachusetts

Gay-friendly
governor takes office in Massachusetts

Springlike weather fell over Massachusetts's first outdoor gubernatorial inaugural ceremony on Thursday, as Deval Patrick visited a hospital and went to church before being sworn in as the first black governor of the Bay State.

The governor-elect, who was returning the corner office to Democratic control for the first time in 16 years, started his day before dawn, continuing to work on his inaugural speech before making an unpublicized visit to Children's Hospital to visit ailing patients and their families.

''The governor-elect is very big on symbolism, just as he was on Election Day, when he finally spread the ashes of his late mother,'' said Patrick spokesman Steve Crawford.

Afterward, Patrick was whisked off in a motorcade escorted by state police motorcycles to an interfaith service at the Old South Meeting House. The multidenominational service featured readings by ministers of various faiths as well as a variety of music.

''I hope you can feel the joy in this room and the sense of expectation that accompanies it,'' said the Reverend Peter J. Gomes, a religion professor at Harvard University, Patrick's alma mater. ''You can't do what you are about to do on your own. You will need a lot of help.''

Gomes also celebrated Patrick for heading up to the statehouse earlier this week in an unsuccessful effort to lobby legislators to vote against a 2008 ballot question proposing to ban same-sex marriage in Massachusetts. ''That was a great sign of things to come,'' Gomes said. ''There is more to be done; this is why you have four years.''

During a pre-inaugural reception at Union Station in Worcester on Wednesday night, the incoming governor urged Massachusetts citizens to retain the political energy that propelled him from first-time candidate to a 21-point winner on Election Day.

''Tonight and tomorrow, under what are predicted to be glorious and uncommonly fair skies, we will feel the energy and the satisfaction of what we built from nearly nothing over the course of two years,'' the governor-elect told a crowd of several thousand. ''But I ask you, above all, to take a morsel of that feeling and tuck it away, because there will be tough times ahead. Change doesn't come easily to many, but change is what we are about and must be about." (AP)

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