Robert Garcia, who is poised to become the first gay immigrant congressman, is breaking tradition in more ways than one. The representative-elect plans to take his oath of office on sentimental documents, including his citizenship certificate, a photo of his parents and a rare Superman comic book.
Garcia is serving his first term in the House of Representatives as a Democrat for California’s 42nd district. Prior to this, he served as mayor of Long Beach, making him the first LGBTQ+, Latino American, and youngest person to hold that office.
Although there is no law that specifies which document is required for swearing the oath of office, the US Constitution, a Bible or more recently the Quran is customary. Garcia will swear on the former, but he is also making sure to include documents that have emotional significance.
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. 🇺🇸😊 pic.twitter.com/YGW43OLsIp
— Robert Garcia (@RobertGarcia) January 3, 2023
Garcia announced his decision on Twitter, “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 Library of Congress].”
Predictably, the Superman comic is drawing the most attention, but its presence alongside such intensely personal keepsakes is a testament to what the comic represents for him. “I learned to read and write English reading comics as a kid. Never stopped reading,” he told Buzzfeed News.
Additionally, the themes behind the comic had a special resonance for him as a young immigrant, LGBTQ+ person and aspiring civil servant. “I grew up mostly reading Superman comics,” he explained. “You know, truth and justice, an immigrant that was different, was raised by good people that welcomed them and always someone that if you look at Superman values, and caucus values, it’s about justice, it’s about honesty, it’s doing the right thing, standing up for people that need support.”
Unfortunately, when he will be sworn in on these documents is a little more complicated. At the time of writing, Congress is deadlocked in voting on a new House Speaker, and no new members of the House can be sworn in without one.