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Some openly LGBT people who have
held elected public office in Oregon

By George T. Nicola
Last updated June 14, 2015

If you see any inaccuracy here, or if you have additions to make, please notify us at info@glapn.org. Any indication of a person's LGBT identity will need to be verified by an authoritative source, usually on the public Internet.

By "openly" LGBT, I usually mean a publicly accessible or published indication by that person that he or she identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.

Gail Shibley, Democrat, Portland

Identifies as lesbian. Appointed to the Oregon House of Representatives in 1991. Came out openly as lesbian, then was elected to retain that House seat in 1992 and 1994. So she was the first openly LGBT person elected to the Oregon Legislature. Beginning in 2013, Gail is the Chief of Staff for Portland Mayor Charlie Hales.

Gail Shibley

George Eighmey, Democrat, Portland

Identifies as a gay man. Appointed to the Oregon House of Representatives in 1993, elected in 1994. Was openly gay when appointed, then ran and won an election, so was first openly gay man elected in Oregon.

George Eighmey

Kate Brown, Democrat, Portland

Identifies as a bisexual woman. Elected to the Oregon House of Representatives, 1992, 1994. Elected to the Oregon Senate, 1996, 2000, 2004. Elected Oregon Secretary of State, (a statewide office) 2009, 2013. Was in the House when she came out openly as bisexual. As Oregon Secretary of State, Kate was first in line of succession for governor, the second highest ranking public official in Oregon. In February 2015, sitting Governor John Kitzhaber resigned from his position. Kate took the oath to assume the office on February 18, 2015. In the process, she was the first person to become governor of any U.S. state while openly LGBTQ. (http://www.advocate.com/politics/2015/02/18/kate-brown-first-openly-lgbt-governor-assumes-office-pointed-inauguration-speech)

Kate Brown

Hedy Rijken, Democrat, Newport

Identifies as a lesbian. Elected to the Oregon House of Representatives, 1988, 1990, 1992. Came out openly to the press after election but did not run for re-election after that. In 1994, the Oregonian reported "Rep. Hedy Rijken , D-Newport, said she has never hidden her sexual orientation but has felt no need to announce it." She is also Asian American.

Chuck Carpenter, Republican, Beaverton

Identifies as a gay man. Elected to the Oregon House of Representatives in 1994 and 1996. Always ran as openly gay.

Chuck Carpenter

Barbara Willer

Identifies as lesbian. Appointed Multnomah County Commissioner, April 1, 2010, to fill the position left vacant by Jeff Cogen's becoming Chair. She served until the end of that year. Was openly lesbian before appointment. Never elected. I think she did run for a commissioner position while openly lesbian, but did not win the election.

Barbara Willer

Sam Adams, Portland, OR

Identifies as a gay man. Elected as City of Portland Commissioner (city council member), 2004. Elected Mayor, City of Portland, 2008. Always ran as openly gay.

Sam Adams

Rives Kistler

Identifies as a gay man. Appointed Judge, Oregon Court of Appeals (a statewide office) 1999, Appointed Justice, Supreme Court (a statewide office), 2003. Elected Justice, Oregon Supreme Court, 2004, 2010. The fact that he is gay started getting press attention after his 2003 Supreme Court appointment, but he still won the contested election to retain the position the following year.

Rives Kistler

Virginia Linder

Identifies as lesbian. Appointed Judge, Oregon Court of Appeals (a statewide office), in 1997, by Governor John Kitzhaber. Won election to retain that seat in 1998. Reelected in 2004. Elected Justice, Oregon Supreme Court (a statewide office), in 2006 and 2012. She was openly lesbian when appointed to or elected to each of these positions.  Justice Linder is retiring at the end of 2015.

Virginia Linder

Tina Kotek, Democrat, Portland

Identifies as lesbian. Elected to Oregon House of Representatives, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014. Always ran as openly lesbian. Selected by Democrats as House Speaker for the 2013 and 2015 sessions. She is the first lesbian in the country and the first LGBT person in Oregon to head a state legislative chamber. (From email verifications sent to GLAPN by Jared Mason-Gere in Tina’s office.)

Tina Kotek

Stu Rasmussen, Silverton, OR

Identifies as transgender. ("He is biologically male and still mainly identifies as a man, but has breast implants and dresses as a woman.") Elected Mayor, City of Silverton, 2008, 2012. Previous to 2008 he was elected mayor, but was not transgender at that time.

Stu Rasmussen

Robert Liberty

Identifies as a gay man. Elected as Metro Councilor, 2004, 2008. Ran as openly gay.

Robert Liberty

Dan Ryan

Identifies as a gay man. Elected to Portland School Board, 2004. Ran as openly gay.

Dan Ryan

Cynthia Wooten, Democrat, Eugene

Identifies as lesbian. Elected to Oregon House, 1992, 1994, 1996. Came out openly after elected. Did not run again.

Cynthia Wooten

Karl Rohde

Identifies as a gay man. Elected as Lake Oswego City Council member, 1996, 2000. He came out as openly gay before his second election. At a later date, he ran for Oregon Senate as a Republican but was not elected.

Karl Rhode

Lynn Nakamoto

Identifies as lesbian. Was out openly before serving in public office. Appointed Judge, Oregon Court of Appeals (a statewide office) in 2011. She was the first Asian Pacific American from Oregon to serve on any state or federal appellate court. She was elected to retain that position in 2012. In December 2015, Judge Nakamoto was appointed by Governor Kate Brown to replace Oregon Supreme Court Justice Virginia Linder who is retiring before the end of her term. Justice Nakamoto takes her seat on the Oregon Supreme Court (a statewide office) on January 4, 2016. She will be the only person of color and one of only two women on Oregon’s current highest court. She will also be the first Asian Pacific American and the first woman of color ever to serve on the Oregon Supreme Court. Justice Nakamoto will run in the 2016 election to retain her new position. (http://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/news/politics/2015/12/07/lynn-nakamoto-first-asian-american-oregon-supreme-court/76933084/, https://ballotpedia.org/Lynn_Nakamoto, and from my email correspondence with the Diversity & Inclusion Department of the Oregon State Bar)

Lynn Nakamoto

Beth Allen

Identifies as lesbian. Appointed Judge, Multnomah County Circuit Court, 2013. Beth was a Shepherd Scholar and a dedicated LGBT activist long before her appointment to the bench. She ran unopposed in the primary election on May 20, and was elected to retain the seat.

Beth Allen

Sidney Galton

Identifies as a gay man. Appointed Judge, Multnomah County Circuit Court, 1998. Elected Judge, Multnomah County Circuit Court, 1998, 2002. Ran for office as openly gay. Left office in late 2005.

Sidney Galton

David Gernant

Identifies as a gay man. Appointed Judge, Multnomah County Circuit Court, 1993. Elected Judge, Multnomah County Circuit Court, 1994, 2000. Openly gay information is from the Victory Fund.

David Gernant

Michael McShane

Identifies as a gay man. Elected Judge, Multnomah County Circuit Court, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012. He left that position in 2013 when he was appointed to the Federal District Court.

Michael McShane

Katherine Tennyson

Identifies as lesbian. Elected Judge, Multnomah County Circuit Court, 2002, and probably 2006, 2010, 2014. Openly lesbian information is from the Victory Fund.
(https://multco.us/elections/may-2014-primary-election-results)

Katherine Tennyson

Janice Wilson

Identifies as lesbian. Appointed Judge to an Oregon District Court, April 1991, by Governor Barbara Roberts. Janice was openly lesbian at time of appointment; her sexual orientation was discussed in the press.  She was elected to retain that position in the 1992 May primary, so she was the first openly LGBT person elected to office in Oregon. Appointed to the Multnomah County Circuit Court in 1994 and won the election to retain that seat the same year. She was reelected to that position in 2000 and 2006. She retired 2-1-2013.

Janice Wilson

Jodie H. Mooney

Identifies as lesbian. Appointed Judge, Lane County Circuit Court, 2011. Elected Judge, Lane County Circuit Court, 2012. Openly lesbian information is from the press release announcing her appointment. So she ran in 2012 as openly lesbian and won.

Jodie Mooney

Rick Brissette

Identifies as a gay man. Ran and won a City Council seat for Lincoln City in 2004 and 2008. He was openly gay from the first election. He resigned in May of 2012.

Rick Brissette

Mary Ann Bearden

Identifies as lesbian. Initially appointed by Governor John Kitzhaber, then elected a number of times to Judge, Lane County Circuit Court. She served between between 1998 and 2012.

Mary Ann Bearden

Jon Gustafson

Identifies as a gay man. Elected to the Lake Oswego City Council in 2012 while openly gay.

Jon Gustafson

Gayle Nachtigal

In January of 2014, GLAPN received word from the Nachtigal family that although the judge, her husband, and their daughter have supported LGBTQ causes for decades, Judge Gayle Nachtigal does not, in fact, identify as a lesbian. They suggested that that GLAPN correct the factual error, and leave this picture in place as a token of their support. GLAPN apologizes for the error.

Gayle Nachtigal

Scott Meisner

Identifies as a gay man.  Was elected to the Eugene City Council.  He became president of the city council in 1999 through a unanimous vote of the other council members.  That placed him second in command behind the mayor.

Scott Meisner

Rob Nosse

Identifies as gay man. Appointed to the Oregon House of Representatives in June 2014 to fill a vacancy. In May 2014, he won the Democratic primary for the same position. In the November 2014 general election, Rob was elected to retain his seat with 91% of the votes. (From email verifications Rob sent GLAPN.)

Rob Nosse

Drew Herzig, Astoria, OR

Identifies as a gay man. Elected to the Astoria City Council in 2012 for a four year term. Drew explained to us “My partner and I make no secret of our relationship. In fact, Charlie and I continue to be the target of homophobic attacks online.“ (From a email Drew sent to info@glapn.org on 9-20-2014)

Drew Herzig

Cheryl A. Pellegrini

Identifies as lesbian. Appointed Judge, Marion County Circuit Court, February 2014 by Governor John Kitzhaber. She then had to run in the November 2014 election to retain that seat for a full six year term. http://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/news/2014/03/01/judge-appointed-in-marion-county/5920699/. She won that election. (http://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/promo/mobile/2014/11/04/election-results-marion-county/18511939/) (At the 2014 October 18, 2014 OGALLA dinner, she told me she identifies as lesbian.)

Chryl Pellegrini

Karin Power

Identifies as lesbian. Elected to the Milwaukie City Council in November 2014. She was the first out LGBT person to be elected to public office in the City of Milwaukie. (From email verifications Karin sent GLAPN.)

Karin Power

Tamie Kaufman, Gold Beach

Identifies as a lesbian. Tamie has served on the Gold Beach City Council previously, but that was before she came out. Most recently, she was appointed in 2010, and was elected to retain that position later in 2010. She tells us “after I was appointed in 2010, I realized I was a lesbian. I came out publicly before I ran.”  She adds “I don't like secrets in small towns.” The local newspapers know she is lesbian, she explains, but they “did not seem to think being a lesbian was important enough to print. I think that actually shows the community has grown enough being gay isn't news.“ Tamie was re-elected in 2014. The position is non-partisan but she is a Republican. Tamie has also been a board member of PFLAG Gold Beach. Some details on Tamie are at https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=862225653795083&substory_index=0&id=
100000229687927
. (From emails Tamie sent GLAPN)

Tamie Kaufman

Stephen Marc Beaudoin,
Portland

Identifies as a gay man. Ran for public office for the first time
and while openly gay in May 2015. He won 54.6% of the vote in a field of three
for the at-large Multnomah Education Service District position. Previous to his
election, Stephen had done considerable volunteer leadership work for Oregon’s
LGBTQ community. Stephen is also an accomplished nonprofit executive, and winner
of the 2014 Spirit of Portland Award. (https://multco.us/elections/may-2015-special-election-results and from a Facebook message conversation with
Stephen.)

Stephen Marc Beaudoin

John Mundy, Bend

Identifies as a gay man. Elected to the Central Oregon Community College Board of Directors in May 2015. John is the first openly LGBTQ person voted to an Oregon public office that is east of the Cascade Mountains. (http://kbnd.com/kbnd-news/local-news-feed/143991 and from my Facebook message conversation with John.)

 

John Mundy

 

 

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