Kyrsten Sinema broke the mold in a lot of ways this Thursday morning.
The Democrat from Arizona became the first openly bisexual in the Senate and Arizona’s first female senator. She’s also the second openly LGBT senator, with Wisconsin Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin being the first.
In a picture showing Vice President Mike Pence swearing her in, the Friendly Atheist’s Hemant Mehta noticed that she had her hand on a “lawbook” (according to Getty Images), and not the customary bible that so many elected politicians prefer.
— Logo 🏳️🌈 (@LogoTV) January 3, 2019
Sinema is not openly non-religious, but she does list herself as “unaffiliated” when it comes to any form of religion. The move will likely ignite speculation as to whether or not she’s an atheist.
Pence ended the oath with the traditional words, “so help you God?” and Sinema responded, “I do.”
A spokesman for Sinema said she used a book from the Library of Congress containing the texts of the U.S. and Arizona constitutions. The spokesman didn’t comment on her religious views, AZCentral reports.
The perceived irony of Pence, whose anti-gay views and fundamentalist Christian ideology are of public record, administering the oath to a likely secular and openly bisexual woman made huge waves across the internet and social media.
“I imagine Vice President Mike Pence, who administered the oath, died a little on the inside,” Mehta wrote on Thursday.
“Homophobe Mike Pence had to swear in Kyrsten Sinema, the first out bisexual Senator in history, on a law book and not a bible. He seems uncomfortable and she’s having fun with it,” political activist Adam Best tweeted. “This is everything.”
“Surely Pence then ran home and prayed with ‘Mother’ about having to stand so close to a pawn of Satan,” Twitter user @Adipositivity wrote. “A smart, funny, smokin’ hot [spawn] of Satan.”
The LGBT website PinkNews called the moment an “awkward pairing.”
But some didn’t see the encounter that way and thought the ridicule of Pence was contrived and out of place, saying that he handled the occasion with grace and respect.
“He seems perfectly comfortable and friendly here,” blogger Matt Walsh tweeted, responding to Adam Best. “You, on the other hand, seem bitter and desperate and pathetic.”
“We call this a ‘reach,'” Twitter user Ben Dage wrote.
“He was gracious and professional,” Quillette editor Andy C. Dago tweeted, also replying to Best. “You on the other hand, appear very bitter.”
Sinema also opted not to use a Bible in her swearing-in-ceremony for the 113th Congress back in 2013. That time, she placed her hand on a copy of the Constitution.
Although some religious conservatives may argue otherwise, the U.S. Constitution clearly states that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” As Mehta points out, at least four presidents and numerous other public officials have been sworn into office without putting their hands on a bible.
Watch the moment in the video below, via The Hill.
— The Hill (@thehill) January 3, 2019
[This article has been updated to include various comments from Twitter] Featured image via screen grab