By Alex Temblador
Meet Kate Brown: the governor of Oregon and the first bisexual governor in the United States. Earlier this year, Kate Brown was the Secretary of State, but after the resignation of Governor John Kitzhaber amidst a scandal, Brown stepped up, took over as governor, and seems to be perfectly comfortable in her new position. She seems is doing something right because her approval rating was at 55% at the beginning of June.
There’s so many things to love about Governor Kate Brown. She has been an advocate for working families and helped pass the Family and Medical Leave in Oregon which allows parents to stay home with their sick children without the threat of losing their jobs, one of the first laws of its kind in the nation. Similarly, she also pushed legislation that made Oregon the first state in the U.S. to require insurance companies to cover annual breast exams for women. Recently during her term in the governor’s office, Oregon passed legislation that gives Oregon students two free years of community college.
More importantly, Kate Brown is a very hands-on governor that likes to be involved in the community and at the State Capitol. “Everyone likes her—she’s very personable,” said Republican Representative Mike McLane. Others have told stories of how she playfully interacts with those in the State Capitol. Shane Jackson, a lobbyist for the Autism Society of Oregon, recounted a story where Gov. Brown walked through the conference room he was in with a file folder in her hand and asked Jackson what he was working on.
“I’ve got an amendment going on in there,” Jackson replied.
“Hopefully not one of my bills,” Gov. Brown said with a laugh and a playful whack of the file folder on his arm. She left Jackson only to walk down the hall stopping every few seconds to speak with others. When speaking of former Gov. Kitzhaber, Jackson said that he never “saw him walking the hall” and then added: “When [Gov. Brown] catches me in the hallway like that, it’s very unique.”
And unique may be the word to describe Gov. Brown, though her Twitter page illustrates that she is unique in her fierce commitment to her community and her identity. As the first openly bisexual governor, Gov. Brown wrestled with the idea of being labeled by her bisexual identity. However, her mind changed when she received a letter from a teen with suicidal thoughts who had been inspired by Gov. Brown’s story.
In response to this letter and her bisexual identity, Gov. Brown said, “If I can save one kid’s life, for me it’s absolutely worth it.”
During an interview, Gov. Brown delved into how she came to embrace her bisexuality as public knowledge:
“I believe it was during my early 30s that I figured out who, or what, I am. But it wasn’t until it was written in the Oregonian newspaper that I was bisexual that I had to face the inevitable and let those around me know.”
It seems that Governor Brown’s sexual orientation has been embraced and received well since she has been in office. She enthusiastically rode a float during Portland’s Pride and sported a #BeTrue shirt and an awesome Pride colored cowboy hat, not to mention, she tweeted out a bunch of Pride photos. It’s clear she loves taking pictures and even shared a photograph of herself and drag entertainer, Poison Waters, at a community event recently. Her relationship with the LGBT community isn’t s a surprise as she helped pass the Oregon Equality Act in 2007 which prohibits employment and housing discrimination based on sexual orientation.
We’re not just in love with Governor Brown because she’s the first openly bisexual governor. It may be because we love seeing her pose with Special Olympic athletes or her support of bilingual students with the passing of legislation. It could also be because she works to strengthen ethics laws in government and her commitment to modern working families. Or it may just be that there are too many reasons why we are proud to have Governor Kate Brown be America’s first openly bisexual governor. Whatever the case may be, we see a bright future for Oregon with a governor like this, though we can’t imagine that she wouldn’t consider sharing her knowledge, expertise, commitment to the community, and great personality with the rest of the country.
We can only hope.