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Portland, Ore.,
Becomes Largest U.S. City With Gay Mayor

Portland, Ore.,
Becomes Largest U.S. City With Gay Mayor


Portland, Ore., is now the largest U.S. city with an openly gay mayor with the election Tuesday of city commissioner Sam Adams to the post. The mayor-elect avoids a November runoff race by having won 58% of the vote, according to the Associated Press.

Portland, Ore., city commissioner Sam Adams on Tuesday became the first openly gay mayor ever elected to lead one of the 30 largest U.S. cities.

Adams, a Democrat, won 58% of the vote over several opponents in the state's unique mail-only primary, eliminating the need for a runoff in November, TheOregonian newspaper reported.

His campaign motto, "Early days of a better nation," referenced not only the city's progressive heritage but his own childhood in poverty. Food stamps and public housing kept the family afloat, he has often said.

"I will work hard with all of you, and believe me, you're going to be working hard as well," he told a crowd that included his mother, grandmother, and two sisters, TheOregonian quoted him as saying Tuesday night. "Together we can make Portland cleaner, greener, more sustainable, smarter, more equal, better educated. We've done it before, and we will do it again."

State senator Kate Brown, also a Democrat, advanced to a November general election for Oregon secretary of state. Brown, who is currently the majority leader in the Oregon senate, would become the nation's highest-ranking openly bisexual elected official if she wins her November general election, as she is favored to do, according to the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, which endorsed both Brown and Adams and helped to fund their campaigns.

Adams, now 44, has spent his entire adult life in politics and government, becoming Portland's youngest chief of staff at the age of 29. He was elected to Portland's City Commission in 2004, becoming its first LGBT member. He helped create a domestic-partner registry in the city and expanded its antidiscrimination statute to include gender identity, according to the Victory Fund.

He was open about miscues that included a personal bankruptcy in the late 1990s, triggered by credit card debt and a bout of appendicitis for which he had no insurance. Later, he said, he paid his creditors in full.

"In Oregon, fairness has won the day. These victories mean that people who are openly gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender can also be seen as capable, committed leaders whose sexual orientation or gender identity is less important than what they plan to do for their communities. That's a step toward full equality that we want to replicate across America," said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund, in a written statement Tuesday.

In other election news, Sen. Barack Obama outpolled Sen. Hillary Clinton 58% to 42% with most of Oregon's ballots counted. The win was expected to put Obama within 70 delegates of clinching the Democratic presidential nomination.

Oregon's gay-friendly Republican U.S. senator Gordon Smith can expect a strong challenge in November from state house speaker Jeff Merkley, recruited by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to try to unseat Smith in the fall. Smith has carried many pieces of gay-supportive legislation in the U.S. Senate, including measures to extend benefits to federal workers' same-sex partners, to end the immigration ban on HIV-positive travelers, and to have Medicaid cover early HIV treatment for people not yet diagnosed with AIDS. Every year since 2000, he and Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., have introduced the hate-crimes bill now known as the Matthew Shepard Act. Smith is now the sole GOP senator on the West Coast and the only Republican holding statewide office in Oregon, according to the AP. He has pledged to raise at least $10 million in his effort to win a third term. (Barbara Wilcox, The Advocate)

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