Toni Atkins will briefly be California's first openly gay governor

Assembly Speaker becomes first openly gay governor of California, but just for a day

With California's governor, lieutenant governor and state Senate president pro tem all out of town for part of Wednesday, newly elevated Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) finds herself briefly serving Wednesday as acting governor.

Atkins is the first openly gay person to serve as California governor, even if it is for less than the full day. Gov. Jerry Brown is flying back to California from a trade mission in Mexico on Wednesday night.

Atkins, who just became speaker in May, said she couldn’t help but think about “how a young girl who grew up in poverty in Virginia ends up as speaker and therefore gets the opportunity to be acting governor.”

“I wish my parents could see this,” she added. Both of her parents are deceased.

It is rare for the speaker to serve as acting governor -- former Assembly Speaker John Perez did not get to do it. Normally, the lieutenant governor and then the state Senate president pro tem would serve in the position, but both are also out of the state.

Although she expects her time as acting governor to be uneventful, Atkins is enjoying the role.

“If Gov. Brown wants a few more days away I'm here for him!” she said.

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