Colorado has elected the nation’s first openly gay governor, as Democratic party candidate Jared Polis is projected to win over Republican rival Walker Stapleton.
At 78 percent of the votes counted, Polis leads by over 6 percentage points, winning more than 51 percent of the public poll—nearly 950,000 votes—compared to Stapleton’s 45 percent.
In his speech on Tuesday (November 6) night, Polis hailed his victory as a step forward for equality, and thanked the LGBT pioneers who came before him.
“Tonight we proved that we are an inclusive state that values everyone’s contribution, regardless of someone’s sexual orientation,” Polis said, quoted in The Coloradoan.
Reflecting on what his victory would mean for the US under the current administration of President Donald Trump, Polis recently said at a meeting Colorado Democrats: “I think it really gives Colorado an opportunity to stick a thumb in the eye of Mike Pence, whose view of America is not as inclusive as where America is today.”
Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez reflected on the significant of Polis’ victory, saying: “I know that Governor-elect Polis and Colorado Democrats are committed to building on Governor Hickenlooper’s successes and rejecting the disastrous Trump-GOP agenda. Jared is going to represent all of Colorado and fight for the issues that matter to working families.”
“We’ve come a long way as a nation in our march toward LGBTQ equality, and none of our progress would have been possible without the courage of the countless LGBTQ organisers and activists who marched for it, refused to back down, and demanded a seat at the table. Jared will continue building on that progress and inspiring future leaders to break down barriers in every community,” Perez added.
Chad Griffin, president of the LGBT rights group Human Rights Campaign, congratulated Polis on his landmark victory.
“History made in Colorado as Jared Polis becomes the first openly gay man elected governor in history! Congratulations on this landmark win, Governor-elect!” he tweeted.
Another gay man, James (Jim) McGreevey, has previously served as governor—in New Jersey—but only came out upon resigning in 2004.
The first openly LGBT person to become governor was Kate Brown, who is bisexual, and won the race in Oregon in 2016.
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Who is Jared Polis?
Polis, a tech millionaire, was elected as a congressional representative for Colorado’s second district in 2008. He was the first openly gay man from Colorado to serve in the House of Representatives, and only the sixth-ever openly gay person, and first openly gay parent, to become a congressman.
Polis has been one of the leading lights for LGBT+ rights in the House of Representatives, co-chairing the LGBT Equality Caucus and co-sponsoring the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which federally recognises anti-LGBT hate crimes.
During the campaign, the Christian organisation Family Policy Alliance featured an ad starring Masterpiece baker Jack Phillips and invited voters to “take a stand with Jack” against the Democratic candidate for governor.
In another attack targeting Polis in August, Colorado’s Jefferson County Republican Party referred to the now governor-elect, who is Jewish, as a “brown shirt”—the original paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party—in a Facebook post which was later removed.
Is Jared Polis married?
Polis has two children with his partner Marlon Reis. In 2017, Reis wrote about being a congressional spouse in an article for The Coloradoan.
“The spouse program offered to us often involved stereotypical views a woman’s ‘role,’ even though many of us were now men. I would often laugh inside when our Spouses Foundation presidents suggested that we pack an extra ‘shawl’ for Inauguration Day, because it would be cold,” he wrote.
“Or, somehow, we would get around to discussing what to wear to inaugural galas. Where could we buy a ball gown that would be simultaneously traditional and boundary pushing?”
The couple’s eldest son Caspian, was born in 2011, while their daughter Cora is now 4 years old.
Polis and his husband will become the first same-sex family to live in a governor’s mansion in the US.