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.
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 [email protected]