Updated Oct 3, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Laphonza Butler sworn in as California senator in historic first

Laphonza Butler on the left with her wife Neneki Lee in the middle and Kamala Harris on the right reading swearing in text.

Sen. Laphonza Butler (D-Calif.) (left) was sworn into office on Oct. 3 by Vice President Kamala Harris (right) in the Old Senate Chamber. Butler's wife, Neneki Lee (middle), is present. Photo: Bill Clark/Getty Images

Sen. Laphonza Butler (D-Calif.) was sworn into office on Tuesday, becoming the first Black lesbian to openly serve in the U.S. Senate.

Driving the news: Vice President Kamala Harris, the first Black woman to represent California in the Senate, administered the oath of office.

  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed the former Emily's List president to replace longtime Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
  • Butler resigned from her position at Emily's List on Tuesday prior to the ceremony, Sara Spain, a spokesperson for the organization, told Axios.

Between the lines: After Harris was elected to the White House, there were no Black women in the Senate, until Tuesday.

  • "I'm sure she will do an excellent job in filling the seat for the time being," Harris said on Tuesday.
  • "I know that our old colleague is looking down at this moment with pride," added Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer while welcoming Butler.

What we're watching: Butler said she is unsure if she will join a crowded field of Democrats running for the Senate seat in November 2024, per the Los Angeles Times.

Go deeper: What to know about Laphonza Butler, Emily's List head replacing Sen. Feinstein

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details.

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