An incoming Democratic congressman who says he will be the first LGBT immigrant to serve in Congress will be swearing on a comic book instead of the Bible for his swearing-in ceremony.
Rep.-elect Robert Garcia is among the hundreds of incoming lawmakers who are still waiting to be sworn in as members of the 118th Congress as debate continues over a vote for speaker of the House of Representatives.
However long the delay, Garcia said Tuesday he will take the oath of office on a copy of the U.S. Constitution, along with a photo of his late parents, a certificate of his U.S. citizenship and the inaugural issue of Superman.
Garcia tweeted: “Will be proudly sworn-in to Congress on the U.S. Constitution. Underneath the Constitution will be 3 items that mean a lot to me personally. A photo of my parents who I lost to covid, my citizenship certificate & an original Superman #1 from the @librarycongress”.
Garcia, who will serve as the representative for California’s 42nd Congressional District, became the “first immigrant and [LGBT] mayor” in the history of Long Beach upon his election in 2014, according to his website.
The 45-year-old told Huffington Post he first gravitated toward comic books as a way of learning the English language when he was brought by his mother at age 5 from Peru to the U.S.
For Garcia, Superman was emblematic of the plight of all immigrants.
“He was an immigrant. I was an immigrant,” Garcia was quoted as saying. “I think that love of helping others, love of country, being different, having to hide your identity — I was a closeted gay person for a long time — those things appealed to me in comics.”
While traditionally most members of Congress have taken their oath using a Bible, there is no legal requirement to do so.
Upon taking the oath of office, Garcia won’t be the first member of Congress to shun the Scriptures for their swearing-in ceremony.
Former Democratic congressman and current Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison was sworn in on a copy of the Quran after he became the first Muslim elected to Congress in 2007. The Quran used for Ellison’s oath was an English translation owned by Thomas Jefferson.
In 2019, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, the first openly bisexual member of the U.S. Senate and the only senator who does not identify with any religious affiliation, opted to be sworn in on a law book with the Arizona Constitution and the U.S. Constitution.