The first openly gay member of the Utah state Senate was sworn in Monday. Addressing colleagues in one of the most conservative legislative bodies in the nation, Democrat Scott McCoy (search), 34, said his sexual orientation will not define his work as a lawmaker.

"The fact that I am gay is certainly one of the characteristics with which I have been endowed by my creator and it is an important part of who I am as a human being," he said. "But it is certainly not the only characteristic that defines me, just as none of my colleagues can or should be reduced to any one of their many characteristics."

He discounted suggestions "that I come to the Senate with a specific personal agenda."

"The only agenda I come into the Senate with is that of the constituents of the Second District," he said.

McCoy was selected by party delegates over the weekend to finish the remaining two years of a term vacated by Democratic Sen. Paula Julander (search), who resigned because of health problems. Julander had asked that her husband, Rod, be elected to finish out her term; McCoy beat him by three votes.

McCoy, an attorney who formerly worked as a clerk for a Utah Supreme Court judge and for the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C., is best known for his work opposing a a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex unions (search). Voters approved the measure in November.