Oregon Gets First Openly Bisexual Governor in American History

Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown (D) will become the first openly bisexual governor in U.S. history when Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) resigns Wednesday

A couple days late to this one but still noteworthy (“This woman will soon become the first openly bisexual governor in American history“):

Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown (D) will become the first openly bisexual governor in U.S. history when Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) resigns Wednesday.

An open LGBT governor has never been elected, although New Jersey did have an openly gay governor briefly in 2004, after Gov. Jim McGreevey (D) came out as gay and admitted an affair with a man he had appointed to a key job. He resigned three months later.

Brown is married to husband Dan Little; she has publicly discussed her bisexuality in past campaigns. She is already arguably the highest-ranking bisexual elected official in America; Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) became the first bisexual member of Congress in 2013. There are about 525 openly LGBT public officials in office at all levels of government, according to the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund. Most of them are Democrats, said interim executive director Denis Dison, and only about 20 are Republicans.

This will also be the second time in Brown’s career she has taken office because of a resignation. Her start in politics came in 1991 when she was appointed to the state House following the resignation of Rep. Judy Bauman (D), who left office because she was appointed to an executive position. Brown served in the House until 1997, when she won a seat in the Oregon state Senate. In 2008, she was the first woman to serve as Oregon Senate majority leader, and later that year she was elected secretary of state.

Technically, Kitzhaber’s resignation isn’t effective until Wednesday. And, no, Oregon doesn’t have a lieutenant governor, so the line of succession is Secretary of State, State Treasurer, President of the Senate, and Speaker of the House.

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James Joyner
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James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. RGardner says:

    I’m in the adjacent PNW state, and this is a so what. But the scandal is Gov. Kitzhaber (Gov for the next week) .

    Living in the local reporting area, there is also the sham marriage to an Ethiopian by the almost First Lady (Statute of Limitation is 5 years, it was 1997). This is getting Oregon weird. Previous OR Gov Goldschmidt (also Carter Sec of Trans) weird (lots of under-aged girls apparently).

    Then there is Terry Bean, major Obama bundler from Portland who is probably going to OR Prison for child rape (and is probably guilty of many more). Just before his Ambassadorial appointment? No idea.

    BTW, I do know the husband of another local Obama bundler (Seattle) and will state that being a political bundler is simple politics, but both have been invited to major White House functions. I have no issue with political appointments (Kennedy in London, Temple Black in Ghana) even if contribution based. How the system works (and works well, egads, our new Obama appointed Ambassador to Iceland is going full Viking (love it – and his accent is decent to by my non-native hearing, and I heard reports that his greetings was as good as the Danish one (major plus, as Danish is a related language)).

    But I have to wonder if there is an internal corruption in Portland(ia)? Mayor Sam Adams (another sex scandal – Breedlove)? Bottom line out of all of this, how deep is the Oregon green corruption. Because this was mostly about about local government GREEN credits.

  2. Tyrell says:

    Those sorts of things should be kept private. What someone does behind the doors of their own home is their business and should be kept there – not brought out in public, especially by a high government official paid with taxpayers (working people) money.

  3. Kylopod says:

    Brown is married to husband Dan Little

    And maybe this will increase public awareness that “bisexual” doesn’t mean someone who sleeps with both men and women.

  4. Tony W says:


    Those sorts of things should be kept private. What someone does behind the doors of their own home is their business and should be kept there

    I agree in principle, but only because numerous people in the past have bravely revealed themselves in this way and collectively removed the stigma that might have been used against the political officeholder. It’s a weird circlejerk, but fortunately we are in a place now where it truly does not matter – because if revealed in the press the response would be a collective ‘meh’.

    Contrast that to what the response would have been in, say, the 1960s and you’ll see my point.