Mark Leno (born September 24, 1951) is an American politician, representing California's 3rd Senate district, which includes parts of San Francisco and Sonoma County, as well as the entirety of Marin County. He was elected in 2008 and is the first openly gay man to serve in the Senate. Leno was previously one of the first two openly gay men (along with John Laird) to serve in the Assembly. He also served as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors between 1998 and 2002 after being appointed by Willie Brown. Leno is the owner of Budget Signs Inc., a small business.
In 2008, he won the Democratic Party nomination for California's 3rd Senate district with 43.8 percent of the vote, defeating incumbent Senator Carole Migden, who had 28.6 percent of the vote, and former Assemblyman Joe Nation, who had 27.6 percent of the vote. He was then elected with 80% of the vote in the general election.
Leno is the grandson of Jewish Russian immigrants. He is a native of Wisconsin and attended the University of Colorado at Boulder, then went on to become valedictorian of his graduating class at the American College in Jerusalem, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree. Leno also spent two years in rabbinical studies at Hebrew Union College in New York. Afterward, he moved to San Francisco on the invitation of his sister. He lived his first four years in the Tenderloin before moving to the Noe Valley neighborhood. In 1978, Leno started Budget Signs as owner and operator. The business incorporated in 1982. Working with his life partner, Douglas Jackson, the business continued to grow and their involvement in community affairs steadily expanded. Jackson died from complications related to AIDS in 1990. Despite this loss, Leno continued his efforts in community service.