WASHINGTON – California's newest senator, Laphonza Butler, became the first Black lesbian to openly serve in Congress on Tuesday.
Vice President Kamala Harris administered the oath to her close friend from the floor of the Senate.
Butler was accompanied in the chamber by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and California Sen. Alex Padilla. At a reenactment ceremony, her partner, Neneki Lee, held the Bible as Butler took the oath from Harris.
The swearing-in ceremony took place less than two days after California Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed Butler, 44, to fill the remainder of former Sen. Dianne Feinstein's term in office. Feinstein died last Thursday.
“This has been a day I did not expect and will never forget. I’m humbled to have the privilege and responsibility of serving the people of California as their Senator," Butler said in a statement after the ceremony.
Butler's appointment was unexpected. She swiftly resigned as president of the Washington, D.C.-based, abortion rights group EMILY's List and reregistered to vote in California, where she has a residence she had not been living in.
Her next major decision: whether to seek a full, six-year term in the seat.
Butler would have to compete against sitting members of Congress, including another Black woman if she wants to keep the job beyond next year.
She is the second Black woman to serve California in the U.S. Senate. Harris was the first. Butler is the first openly LGBTQ+ person to hold the Senate seat, in addition to being the first openly Black lesbian to serve in Congress.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Laphonza Butler takes oath, becomes first Black lesbian US Senator