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California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara takes oath in historic gay ceremony

California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara

Ricardo Lara, left, was sworn into office Monday as California Insurance Commissioner by retired U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, who wrote the decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger in 2010 that declared unconstitutional California’s Proposition 8 gay marriage ban. Photo: Twitter.

Ricardo Lara was sworn in as California Insurance Commissioner this week, and queer history was made — He became the first elected statewide office holder who publicly identifies as gay.

SHATTERING PINK CEILING

Lara, who took the oath of office Monday in Sacramento, started his speech by thanking LGBTQ leaders on whose shoulders he stood and celebrated the historic occasion.

“Today, because of you, we’ve shattered the pink ceiling,” Lara said.

Lara is the eighth elected insurance commissioner since voters created the position in 1988.

INSURANCE COMMISSIONER

As California Insurance Commissioner, Lara will be responsible for an agency with far reaching power. The department enforces insurance laws and licenses, regulates companies, and investigates fraud.

“Our seniors, people living in poverty, and immigrant communities are targets of con artists and scams,” Lara said. “Our entrepreneurs face economic uncertainty. Millions of us live one emergency room visit away from financial ruin. We cannot deny that with climate change, California faces a threat like never before.”

Lara, a Democrat, was a State Senator who represented parts of Southeast Los Angeles. In 2017, he introduced a bill to create a single-payer healthcare system.

Lara promised to work with Gov. Gavin Newsom to expand health coverage across California.

MAKING MORE QUEER HISTORY

Lara also made history in 2012 when he became the first openly gay person of color elected to the California Senate. Lara was first elected to the State Legislature in 2010.

Lara was sworn into office as insurance commissioner by retired U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, who wrote the decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger in 2010 that declared unconstitutional California’s Proposition 8 gay marriage ban.

Phillip Zonkel can be reached at 562-294-5996 or phillip.zonkel@qvoicenews.com.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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