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LA Union Organizer First Openly Gay Assemblyman Named as Speaker

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John Perez
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The next speaker of the California Assembly marks a milestone for the house, as Los Angeles union organizer John A. Perez is the first openly gay man to serve in that capacity. 40-year-old Perez has been politically active since his teens, and worked "both in housing projects and with immigrants on job sites to improve wages, healthcare and benefits," eventually leading him to become UFCW political director before running for the Assembly representing the 46th district, according to his campaign biography.Perez's selection was backed unanimously, and, if confirmed in the new year, will replace Democrat Karen Bass of Los Angeles, who was herself another barrier-breaking speaker, being the "first black woman to head either chamber of the Legislature," notes an AP article published on abc7.com.

While Perez is aware his nomination was groundbreaking, "he also emphasized that he should not be defined by his sexual orientation."