California Assembly leader opens up on gay rights

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Updated: 6/17/2014 1:01 pm

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The first lesbian to lead a house of the California Legislature says more work needs to be done to promote tolerance of gays and lesbians, especially in rural America.

Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins told a women's conference in the capital Tuesday there was nothing courageous about her kissing her spouse when she was sworn in last month.

The San Diego Democrat, who was raised in Appalachia, says California is more tolerant than many other states, especially those that are mostly rural. Atkins says there are many places — including some regions of California — where she would feel uncomfortable holding her spouse's hand.

She also took a jab at Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who recently compared homosexuality to alcoholism. She says she's "not addicted to anything except coffee."

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