Maura Healey is now officially the first out lesbian governor in the U.S.
Healey, a Democrat, was sworn in Thursday as governor of Massachusetts. She is also the first woman to be governor of the state, and she and Healey and Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll are the first pair of women to hold the top two offices in any state.
She was one of two lesbians who won gubernatorial races in November. Democrat Tina Kotek will be sworn in as Oregon's governor Monday, joining Healey as a "first."
Healey was previously a two-term attorney general of Massachusetts -- the first out lesbian and first out LGBTQ+ person to hold that position anywhere in the U.S. Before that, she headed the civil rights division in the Massachusetts AG's office, where her accomplishments included leading the first state challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act.
"I want Massachusetts to be a place where people who are born here want to stay and live," she told The Advocate recently. "Part of that is to make sure the state has vibrancy, opportunities, and a culture of equality, which is so important."
In her inaugural address Thursday, she outlined steps to work for that culture. "Our greatest strength is our people, but we cannot reach our potential as a state when so many are held back from reaching their own," she said. "People of color, people with disabilities, women, LGBT residents -- they continue to face barriers that have held them back for generations.
"We must center equity in all we do. I will be directing each agency in my administration to conduct a full equity audit. Let Massachusetts be the place that shines a light on every systemic barrier, and then does the hard work to break them down. Because that's who we are."
She also committed to actions that will address climate change, create more affordable housing, improve transportation, enhance education, and lower the cost of child care.
She further commented on her groundbreaking achievement. "I assume this office as the first woman and first gay person elected governor of our state," she said. "But every one of us, every citizen, is a first. You may be a first-generation immigrant, choosing Massachusetts as the foundation of your American dream. You may be the first in your family to go to college or to send your child there. The first in your neighborhood to start a business. In this state, we are all trailblazers. We are all leaders. That's why we live in Massachusetts. What story will we write together?"
Healey's inauguration party was held Thursday night at the TD Garden, where the Boston Celtics play their home games -- an appropriate choice since Healey and Driscoll both played basketball in college. The event was headlined by lesbian singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile, described by Healey as her favorite performer.
"I knew if I had the opportunity to choose one person who was going to play at our inauguration, it was going to be Brandi Carlile," Healey said, according to the Boston Herald. "I really admire how she's put herself out there.
"I admire her voice, not just her singing voice of course, but the voice she gives to so many, so many women, young LGBT people, so many people who from whatever walk of life may have felt vulnerable, may have felt marginalized, may have been made to feel less than."
Before the festivities, Carlile had issued this statement: "As forces across this country try to sow division and anger, it fills me with hope to see women like them lead us forward with positivity and empathy. Their victories were decades in the making, and we know there is more work ahead -- but now is the time to pause and celebrate this historic moment."
At the event, Carlile sang several of her hits as well as "Over the Rainbow," the Herald reports. There were also performances by Boston Bruins national anthem singer Todd Angilly, the Boston Gay Men's Chorus, and the Everett Marching Band, and recorded music provided by DJ Frenchy. See a clip of Carlile's performance below.
Several videos were shown too, including one that featured legendary athletes, such as tennis great Billie Jean King and soccer star Megan Rapinoe, both lesbians, and a well-known straight man, Bob Cousy, who played point guard for the Celtics in the 1950s and '60s. "From an exceptional point guard at Harvard to the governor's mansion -- go, girl," Cousy said in the video, according to the Herald.