Gay Democrat Robert Garcia explains why he’ll be sworn into Congress on a Superman comic

Robert Garcia, holding a microphone, speaks to a group of people in an open collar blue blazer.

Robert Garcia, soon to be the first gay, immigrant US congressman, will take his oath of office on three unique items.

The California Democrat will be sworn in to Congress as soon as a new House speaker is elected, and when doing so, will hold “underneath the Constitution… three items that mean a lot to me personally”.

“A photo of my parents, who I lost to COVID, my citizenship certificate, and an original Superman #1 from the [Library of Congress],” he tweeted on Tuesday (3 January).

The comic book holds a special place in Garcia’s heart.

“Congressman Garcia learned to read and write in English by reading Superman comics so it’s especially exciting he was able to borrow this rare copy from the kind folks at the Library of Congress,” said his spokesperson Sara Guerrero.

The politician came to the US from Peru with his family at five years old, and has said that migrating was “his proudest moment” and a huge reason for his career in politics.

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It’s unclear when Garcia and fellow members of Congress will be sworn in, as the House has so far failed to elect a new speaker – something that hasn’t happened in more than a century.

A group of Republicans are refusing to back majority candidate Kevin McCarthy. The House’s tight split means that without their support, no candidate can get over the line.

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Voting will continue on Wednesday, but there’s no telling when or if McCarthy will be able to unite his party.

Robert Garcia’s political career began in 2009 – having been politically active long before then – when he served as a member of the Long Beach City Council until 2014.

He eventually assumed higher office, becoming the mayor of Long Beach between 2014 and 2022.

During that time, he became known for his socially progressive politics and his efforts to mitigate the environmental impact of local businesses.

He is also a self-admitted comic book nerd.

After gaining access to the Library of Congress, Garcia tweeted that he was “freaking out” about having found both the first issue of Superman and the first issue of Spider-Man.

“I’m going to have a hard time deciding which one to check out first,” he said.

When he’s eventually sworn in, Garcia will also bring a photo of his parents.

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Gaby Elena O’Donnell and Greg O’Donnell passed away in July and August 2020 respectively from COVID-19 complications.

Garcia honoured both his parents after their deaths on Twitter, saying that the two were “just totally in love. They were always happy’.

“I think about, during these times, my mother’s optimism in us building a better future and a better community,” he said. “She always said to me and to my brother that we’ll never be able to give back to our country what our country has given to us.”

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