“It’s the first time. And it’s about time."
San Diego Sen. Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) made history this afternoon when she is sworn in as the California Senate’s 48th president pro tempore, the first woman and first lesbian to hold the top seat in the Senate.
An amended Pride flag with a black and brown stripe was draped over the balcony in the rotunda at The State Capitol Building’s in Sacramento before the swearing-in ceremony on Wednesday afternoon.
Atkins was escorted to the rostrum, and California Supreme Court Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye administered the oath of office. In her address, she acknowledged outgoing President Pro Tempore Kevin de León and his hard work in California.
“For every gesture of kindness he’s extended to me,” Atkins said, “and for every measure of devotion he’s offered our state – our climate, our children, our working families and our immigrant community – from the bottom of my heart, I say thank you.”
As for the LGBT history-making milestone, Sen. Atkins praises the work of the community in changing history.
“It’s the first time. And it’s about time,” she said. “Women and LGBT activists weren’t waiting – they were working. Marching in streets. Battling in courtrooms. Speaking out. Stepping up. This ascension is their accomplishment, not mine.”
Atkins is also the first person to serve as Speaker of the Assembly and President pro tempore of the Senate in 146 years.
In her speech she called California the world’s breadbasket, calling for all politicians to represent the state as such.
“So I don’t care whether you are a Senator or an Assemblymember, a Republican or a Democrat, rural or urban, north, south or central – we are all Californians, we all represent Californians, and, like California itself, we succeed or we fail together.”
Top two sidebar photos courtesy Ryan Trabuco