Saturday, May 24, 2008

First openly-gay Mayor of Portland, OR

Portland, Oregon City Commissioner Sam Adams had little difficulty winning Portland's mayoral race Tuesday, becoming the first openly gay mayor ever elected to lead one of the 30 largest U.S. cities.

Adams won 58 percent of the vote, avoiding a November runoff.

Local businessman Sho Dozono had 34 percent and almost a dozen other candidates split the remainder.

Adam's sexuality was never an issue in the campaign but following his victory said he was aware of the history he was making.

"I'm running not to be a gay mayor, but a great mayor," he said. "But I'm very cognizant, very aware that I'm the first openly gay mayor of a major American city. That's a real honor."

The Washington DC-based Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund endorsed Adams and helped to fund his campaign. Tuesday's election also saw Victory-endorsed Oregon Secretary of State candidate Kate Brown advance to the November general election, easily winning her Democratic primary.

Brown, who is currently the Democratic leader in the Oregon Senate, would become the nation's highest ranking openly bisexual elected official if she wins her November general election. She is heavily favored against her Republican opponent, who has never held elective office.

Adams cut his political teeth serving for more than a decade as chief aide to Portland Mayor Vera Katz. In 2004 he became the first openly gay man elected to Portland City Council - the same year that Oregon voted to amend its constitution to bar same-sex marriage.

The amendment was pushed through after about 3,000 same-sex couples were granted marriage licenses in Multnomah County, the largest county in Oregon.

Last year Adams and his former partner, Greg Eddie, filed a civil rights lawsuit alleging the Public Employee Retirement System discriminated against them because it would not recognize their breakup in the same-way it recognizes opposite-sex couple divorces.

Adams and Eddie were together for 11 years. They owned a home, shared a joint bank account, and pooled their assets. In 2004 the men ended their relationship and agreed to split their shared assets 50-50.

But when Adams attempted to have his retirement account with PERS equally divided the System refused saying the breakup was not a divorce in the legal sense.

Oregon last year passed legislation allowing gay couples to register as domestic partners.
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Crush du Jour: Sam Adams