Gay Democratic politician Jared Polis has been sworn in as the Governor of Colorado.
Polis is the first out gay man to be elected Governor of a US state, and only the second out LGBT+ person after Oregon’s bisexual Governor Kate Brown.
The new Governor was inaugurated at the Colorado State Capitol in Denver on January 8.
The Denver Gay Men’s Chorus opened the event, with the stage decorated with a subtle rainbow and the slogan ‘Colorado for all.’
He said: “There were many brave people over the years who made it possible for someone like me to be standing here, giving a speech like this.
“I am grateful to those before me who struggled for equal rights, who made difficult sacrifices and worked towards a brighter future for our state, our nation and our world.”
Addressing divisions in US politics, Polis added: “There’s no reason to let our differences divide us. We’ve embraced the idea that no two people are exactly alike, and have decided to celebrate our differences. They make us stronger. Colorado for all.”
The politician also thanked his partner Marlon Reis and their two children, who will join Polis in becoming the first LGBT+ family to occupy a Governor’s Mansion in the US.
Addressing the crowd before Polis took the stage, poet Anne Waldman hit out at the “unethical, homophobic, misogynist, racist, sexist, elitist disaster governance” of Donald Trump.
Dr. James D. Peters Jr. of the New Hope Baptist Church was among the diverse religious leaders to deliver a blessing at the event, noting that Polis has faced “bigotry because of who he is.”
He added: “I pray that your election begins a day that the nation will rise up and treat all people as people.”
Polis, who previously led the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus in the US House of Representatives, ran for Governor in November’s midterm elections.
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Polis was elected to succeed the term-limited Democratic incumbent John Hickenlooper with 53 percent of the vote on November 6, ahead of Republican candidate Walker Stapleton on 42 percent.
Colorado Governor Jared Polis pledged a statewide ban on gay cure therapy
The newly-elected Polis has already vowed to push forward with a statewide ban on gay cure therapy now that Democrats hold the governorship and both chambers of the Colorado legislature.
He told the Washington Blade in December he wanted to ensure “parents can’t force their children into unscientific, torturous conversion therapy.”
Polis added: “We, of course, have strong laws that prevent discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in Colorado, we certainly want to make the step to make sure we’re inclusive for everybody regardless of their race, or gender, or orientation and where they come from.”
“What we really hope we can achieve is a day where it doesn’t make news at all when someone is elected because of who they love or who they are.”
— Jared Polis
The governor said he also wanted to “make [it] easier” for trans people to gain legal recognition in the state, adding that LGBT+ issues are “particularly important in the age of Trump with some of the divisive language that’s used against our community and other communities by the president.
Speaking to Teen Vogue, he added: “I really understand how others can find a lot of excitement in the fact that a state like Colorado can elect an openly gay governor, and hopefully that can inspire LGBT youth and others across the country to really reach for the stars in whatever fields they are striving for,”
Polis continued: “What we really hope we can achieve is a day where it doesn’t make news at all when someone is elected because of who they love or who they are.
“Hopefully it will be less of an issue for others who come next and forge the path forward.”