Kamala Harris’ Senate replacement is a committed LGBT+ ally who worked tirelessly to make voting easier for trans people

Kamala Harris at a podium in a white suit and pussy bow blouse / Alex Padilla sitting behind a desk in a suit

Alex Padilla, California secretary of state and stalwart LGBT+ ally, has been chosen as Kamala Harris’ Senate replacement.

California governor Gavin Newsom picked Alex Padilla to fill the incoming vice president’s seat in the Senate when she departs for her new role in January.

Padilla, who will be California’s first Latino senator, will hold the role as an appointee until the 2022 election.

The governor said: “The son of Mexican immigrants — a cook and house cleaner — Alex Padilla worked his way from humble beginnings to the halls of MIT, the Los Angeles City Council and the state senate, and has become a national defender of voting rights as California’s secretary of state.

“Now, he will serve in the halls of our nation’s Capitol as California’s next United States senator, the first Latino to hold this office.

“Through his tenacity, integrity, smarts and grit, California is gaining a tested fighter in their corner who will be a fierce ally in DC, lifting up our state’s values and making sure we secure the critical resources to emerge stronger from this pandemic. He will be a senator for all Californians.”

Alex Padilla has a strong LGBT+ rights record.

As noted by LGBTQ Nation, the 47-year-old Alex Padilla is a strong supporter of equal rights who has worked to engage voters within the LGBT+ community.

In 2019, he earned praise after California became the first state to train poll workers on trans issues, explaining how to sensitively respond to voters whose “gender identity, expression, or pronouns don’t match their name on the voter rolls”.

Padilla also worked to mobilise LGBT+ voters through a partnership with Drag Out The Vote, working to engage queer people of colour and provide timely and accurate election information.

Secretary of state Alex Padilla will fill the incoming vice president's seat in the Senate (State of California)

Secretary of state Alex Padilla will fill the incoming vice president’s seat in the Senate (State of California)

LGBT+ campaigners welcome new California Senate pick.

While some LGBT+ community leaders had hoped that gay Long Beach mayor Robert Garcia would be chosen by Newsom for the Senate seat, they nonetheless praised the choice of Padilla.

Equality California executive director Rick Chavez Zbur said: “We applaud governor Newsom’s historic appointment of secretary Padilla to serve as the next and first Latino US senator from California. In addition to running the largest and safest election in California history, secretary Padilla has been a true ally to the LGBTQ+ community throughout his career and an exceptional partner to Equality California.

“Earlier this year, secretary Padilla worked with Equality California to ensure that transgender and gender-nonconforming Californians can vote free from discrimination or harassment. We couldn’t be prouder that a son of immigrants, a partner in the fight for LGBTQ+ equality and a champion for free and fair elections — especially at a time like this — is headed to represent California in the United States Senate.”

As Padilla moves to the Senate, assembly member Shirley Weber has been named to fill the role of California’s secretary of state.

Zbur added: “Throughout her career, Dr Weber has been a champion for the most marginalized communities — communities of color, women, the LGBTQ+ community and those who live at the intersections of those identities.

“She is a renowned civil rights leader and in many ways the moral conscience of the California Legislature — the perfect person to serve as California’s next secretary of state. The historic significance of this appointment cannot be overstated.

“Born to sharecroppers in the South, seven years before the Voting Rights Act was signed into law, Dr Weber will now be charged with protecting the rights of over 30 million eligible voters in the nation’s most populous state.

“We are confident she will serve with honour and distinction and look forward to continuing our work together.”