Kate Brown became the highest-ranking openly LGBT person to hold office in America Wednesday afternoon when she was sworn in as governor of Oregon.
Brown, who was Oregon's secretary of state, assumed the office after Gov. John Kizhaber resigned last week after he and his environmental consultant fiancée, Cylvia Hayes, were accused of ethics violations. In Brown's inaugural address, the new governor tackled the ethics scandal head-on, in pointed fashion.
"Oregon has been in the national news for all the wrong reasons. That changes starting today," the Democrat said in a ceremony before the Oregon legislature.
She added, "I pledge to you today that for as long as I am your governor, I will not seek or accept any outside compensation, from any source. And I pledge further that while I am governor the members of my household and the members of my staff will not seek or accept any outside compensation, from any source, for any work related to the business of the state of Oregon. That simply will not happen."
Democrats and Republicans, in a show of bipartisanship, escorted Brown from the House chamber to the governor's office after the ceremony, according to The Oregonian.
Hayes allegedly earned approximately $200,000 through contracts tied to her work in Kitzhaber’s cabinet, even though she was listed as an unpaid adviser. Kitzhaber had insisted multiple times that he would not resign in the face of these allegations, and in his last public appearance, he insisted that he had not done anything illegal. His staff is said to have made a failed attempt to destroy thousands of emails, as previously reported.
House Speaker Tina Kotek, who is gay, trumpeted Brown's work in advocacy and later in government, adding, "I am also proud that Oregon has again made history as a leader in equality, with Kate Brown now serving as the nation's first governor from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community."
Brown is now Oregon's second female governor as well as the first out lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender governor in the United States (New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey resigned after coming out as gay). According to The Oregonian, Brown had been considered a contender for the 2018 gubernatorial race. Her political career started in 1991, when she was appointed to a vacant state state House seat. She had previously worked as a lobbyist for the Women's Rights Coalition.
Watch her inauguration speech below: