Laphonza Butler becomes first Black lesbian to serve in Congress

Laphonza Butler

Laphonza Butler, the woman chosen by governor Gavin Newsom to replace late senator Dianne Feinstein, will make history as the first Black lesbian to serve openly in Congress. 

Butler, a Democratic strategist and advisor to vice president Kamala Harris’ 2020 presidential campaign, will be the only Black female senator to currently serve in Congress and only the third in US history. 

She will also be the first openly LGBTQ+ person to represent California in the chamber. 

Newsom described Butler as a staunch leader who will represent the state “proudly” in Senate and “carry the baton left” by Feinstein in fighting for “all Californians in Washington DC”. 

“An advocate for women and girls, a second-generation fighter for working people, and a trusted adviser to vice president Harris, Laphonza Butler represents the best of California, and she’ll represent us proudly in the United States Senate,” Newsom said.

“As we mourn the enormous loss of senator Feinstein, the very freedoms she fought for – reproductive freedom, equal protection and safety from gun violence – have never been under greater assault. 

You may like to watch

“Laphonza will carry the baton left by senator Feinstein, continue to break glass ceilings, and fight for all Californians in Washington DC.”

‘A champion for increasing women’s representation’

Laphonza Butler is the president of EMILY’s List, where she was the first woman of colour and mother to lead the political action committee focused on electing Democratic pro-choice women to office.

Butler is set to complete Feinstein’s term, who died Friday (29 September) at the age of 90 after serving in the US Senate from 1992 until her death. 

In 2021, Newsom promised to appoint a Black woman should Feinstein leave office before her term ended. 

California senator Alex Padilla said in a statement on social media that he was ‘honoured to welcome Butler to the Senate’.

“Throughout her career, Laphonza Butler has been a strong voice for working families, LGBTQ rights and a champion for increasing women’s representation in politics,” Padilla said. 

“Governor Newsom’s swift action ensures that Californians maintain full representation in the Senate as we navigate a narrow Democratic majority. I look forward to working together to deliver for the people of California.”