An update to a story R20 first reported in December. Rhode Island lawmakers have elected Rep. Gordon D. Fox as the state's first black and first openly gay House speaker, the Boston Herald reports.
The Democrat from Providence received votes Thursday from 51 of the 75 lawmakers in the House. Democrats nominated him during an earlier closed-door caucus. The 48-year-old lawyer previously served as House majority leader. He replaces former House Speaker William Murphy, who will continue to represent his district until the legislative session ends early next year. Fox announced he was gay in 2004 during a Statehouse rally in support of gay marriage.
Fox said in an interview with The Providence Journal that he is "in a long-term relationship, but not officially married. ... When I get married, I would like to do it in my home state." Rhode Island and Maine are the only New England states that have not approved marriage equality. Fox says he is "reluctant" to make a commitment to bring the issue to the House floor for a vote after Murphy leaves. Rhode Island's anti-gay Republican governor Donald Carcieri has tried to block even basic rights for LGBT couples.
Fox is biracial—his father is Irish, his mother Cape Verdean—and considers himself black. He does so, the Providence Journal writes, because he hopes to be a role model for black youngsters and black gay youth.
Fox, who was the House Majority Leader, becomes the nation's second openly gay legislative leader. Los Angeles Democratic Assemblymember John A. Pérez was recently elected the very powerful speaker of the California Assembly. Bravo and congratulations to Speaker Fox.