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Laphonza Butler is set to become the first out Black lesbian to serve in Congress.

The Democratic strategist and former labor leader has been appointed by Californian Governor Gavin Newsom to fill the late Senator Dianne Feinstein’s seat in an interim capacity following her death last week, at the age of 90. Butler is expected to be sworn into her new position this coming Tuesday.

This notable appointment will make Butler the only Black woman currently serving in the Senate, and only the third Black woman in history to serve after Senator Carol Moseley Braun and current Vice President Kamala Harris. Additionally, she is the first openly LGBTQIA+ senator to represent California.

Newsom announced the news in a statement on 1 October that showcased Butler’s credentials as: “An advocate for women and girls, a second-generation fighter for working people, and a trusted advisor to Vice President Harris, Laphonza Butler represents the best of California.”

In light of the news of her pending appointment, Butler said on Twitter: “I’m honored to accept Gov. @GavinNewsom’s nomination to be U.S. Senator for a state I have made my home and honored by his trust in me to serve the people of California and this great nation.

“No one will ever measure up to the legacy of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, but I will do my best to honor her legacy and leadership by committing to work for women and girls, workers and unions, struggling parents, and all of California. I am ready to serve.”

Butler is the current president of EMILY’s List, an organisation that are working to “elect democratic pro-choice women to office,” with the aim of “fighting for our rights and our communities.”

Upon the sad announcement of Feinstein’s death, EMILY’s list commented on Twitter: “We were deeply saddened by the passing of Sen. @DianneFeinstein, a titan in the Senate whose groundbreaking career was decorated with many firsts, including breaking gender barriers in a lifetime of service where she inspired young women for over a generation.”

Prior to the death of Feinstein, CNN reported how Newsom pledged to name a Black woman to the seat should she resign before her term’s end in 2024. Although Butler has been appointed in an interim capacity she will be able to run for re-election next year.

In light of the news, the appointment was met with praise. Stacey Abrams, member of the Democratic Party, tweeted: “Extraordinarily proud of @LaphonzaB – a stalwart for women, workers, the disadvantaged and those in search of a better life. She understands the contours of power and knows that when shared, it multiplies. She’s the right choice at the right time. Congrats, #LaphonzaButler!”


Butler has previously led strategic campaigns for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who said she is: “A great choice for California and for the Senate. Congratulations, @LaphonzB!”.