When she was sworn in on January 9th as the 39th Governor of Oregon, Tina Kotek joined #OutLEADER Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey as one of the two out-lesbian state chief executives in the United States. Victorious after one of the most competitive races in the past election cycle, we’ve been a fan of Governor Kotek for years and are delighted to celebrate her as an #OutLEADER in this week’s issue of OutNEWS.
Governor Kotek has been an advocate for living authentically — and creating a world where you can do so free from penalty and prejudice — since coming out in her early twenties. She has said, “While it wasn’t always easy, each experience coming out to others strengthened my resilience. For me, coming out became a personal responsibility to undermine hatred and bigotry. But it was bigger than me as an individual, so while getting my graduate degree, I fought for and won domestic partnership rights for faculty and students at the University of Washington.”
And that’s not all, Governor Kotek has a long professional history of helping all Oregonians. After college, she worked in the nonprofit sector, which ultimately inspired her to run for a role in the state legislature. Since being elected to public office, she’s made it her mission to vote for policies that reflect her values as a first-generation American who benefited from a stable and supportive upbringing. Believing all Oregonians deserve the same, she raised the minimum wage, passed paid family leave, made Oregon the first in the nation with statewide rent control, and voted to put her state on a path to 100% clean electricity — and she did it as the first lesbian speaker of any state House of Representatives.
As Governor, she plans to immediately address the state’s homelessness emergency, fight to increase benefits for communities like veterans, expand access to mental health and addiction treatment services, make plans to build housing, and tackle the lasting effects of Covid.
Like everything she does in and out of office, #OutLEADER (or Captain Kotek!) will “put people first.” She says it best: “[I will be a leader] who prioritizes justice and equity, who brings people together and inspires all of us to reach for a better future.”