Rep. Tina Kotek of Oregon will become the first out lesbian to lead a state legislative chamber after being elected House Speaker by her Democratic colleagues Thursday.
The Associated Press reports on the vote, which needs to be formally ratified in January. Kotek told the AP that she knows her success as an openly lesbian official has inspired other LGBT people.
"We all look for people out there who look like us," she said. "I have had emails and text messages from people who are very excited."
Openly gay leaders will control legislative chambers in five states, according to the AP, up from two before the election last week. Senator Ed Murray, who is openly gay, was elected majority leader in neighboring Washington this week, while Rep. Mark Ferrandino was elected Colorado House speaker.
Kotek, 46, represents the Portland area. She lives with her partner Aimee Wilson, according to her biography on the state legislature’s website.
Kotek, Murray and Ferrandino have been endorsed and supported by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund.