California Dems Elect Gay Latino Speaker, San Fran Paper Cries 'History!'

The San Francisco Chronicle proclaimed history from Sacramento on Friday: "Assemblyman John Pérez, an openly gay Latino Democrat from Los Angeles, made history Thursday when he was unanimously chosen by the Assembly's Democratic Caucus to succeed Karen Bass as the lower house's leader.

As with Obama, the call of "history" obviously trumped experience. Reporter Marisa Lagos added: "Pérez, a freshman lawmaker who is expected to be formally voted in as the 68th Assembly speaker in January, will become the body's first openly gay leader."

So when in the story would the Chronicle acknowledge that Republicans or conservative activists disapproved of this odd decision? They never did.

Welcome to San Francisco media, where only the forces of "history" are worth quoting.

The Chronicle story ran only elated liberals and gay activists (and the word "liberal" was never used). Instead it's a pinch-me moment of inclusion:

"It's obviously an incredibly moving experience to have the unanimous support of my colleagues," Pérez, 40, said shortly after the caucus vote. "I think it says more about California than it does about me - it means that California is a place where everybody has a seat at the table, that we're a state where everybody brings forward their contributions."

Advocates for the gay community immediately praised Pérez's election, calling it a historic moment for not just the state but for the nation.

"It's very, very poignant," said Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, who is also gay. "I was a personal friend of (slain San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk) and to live long enough to see this is very significant. ... Like Milk said, you have to give them hope, and I think what happened today is going to give people hope."


"I can tell you he's ready," said [Karen] Bass, D-Baldwin Vista (Los Angeles County), who was the first African American woman to lead the Assembly. "He doesn't walk into this job as if this is the first thing he's ever done - he has decades of experience serving in many leadership capacities."

The story also ended with another bouquet of praise from the gay left:

Equality California director Geoff Kors - whose group fights for gay rights - noted the significance of a gay, Latino man rising to a position of power so quickly. Kors said the visibility of the speaker, coupled with his ability to build coalitions could have wide-ranging impacts on civil rights.

"He's the first openly gay person of color elected to the Legislature, so it's really a testament to what he's done in the Legislature and before in labor, for the environment, for the civil rights movement and for the (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) movement," he said. "To have an openly gay Latino heading the largest legislative body, that represents the most people in the country, in and of itself is going to have a significant impact on advancing LGBT rights."

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San Francisco Chronicle
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