Openly gay California Assembleyman John Perez was sworn in as Speaker yesterday.

He was unanimously elected as Speaker by a caucus of his Democratic colleagues in December and takes over from incumbent Karen Bass to hold one of the most powerful political positions in the state.

Mr Perez joined the Assembly one year ago and will hold the speaker’s position for five years, as there is a six-year limit on terms.

Before taking his oath yesterday, he was introduced by Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, who said: “He’s someone who sends a signal to the nation that being gay is no longer a barrier to greatness.”