Colorado Democratic US Rep. Jared Polis will be his state’s next governor, becoming the nation’s first openly gay man elected to a governor’s mansion.
Polis will succeed Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, who is term-limited from seeking the office again, after defeating Republican gubernatorial nominee Walker Stapleton on Tuesday.
“Generations of LGBTQ advocates have dreamed of the moment when voters would overcome tired stereotypes and elect an openly gay man who stands proudly with his partner and family — and this is that moment,” said former Houston Mayor Annise Parker, president and CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund. “Colorado has undergone a transformation that parallels the changing attitudes in the country at large.
“In just 25 years, Colorado went from being labeled a ‘hate state’ for its anti-LGBTQ voter-approved ballot initiative to becoming the first state in the nation to elect an openly gay governor,” Parker added. “This is the evolution we will fight for in states all throughout the country — both red and blue — because we know voters are ready to support authentic, values-driven LGBTQ candidates who speak to the issues that matter most. Jared shattered a lavender ceiling in Colorado, but its effect will extend well-beyond the state’s borders.”
Oregon Democratic Gov. Kate Brown, who identifies as bisexual, is already the first openly LGBTQ person to be elected governor. Former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey came out as gay before he stepped down from office in the early 2000s.
Polis was one of several LGBTQ candidates who ran for governor this cycle, along with Brown in Oregon, Vermont Democrat Christine Hallquist and Texas Democrat Lupe Valdez.
The historic first for Polis means Democrats will retain the governor’s mansion in Colorado and the LGBTQ community will secure rare representation at the statewide level.
Polis is no stranger to the distinction, having become the first openly gay man elected to the House as a freshman in 2008.
During his gubernatorial bid, Polis has pushed for universal health care, free early childhood education and progressing Colorado to a 100 percent renewable energy state.
As a freshman, Polis and his spouse Marlon Reis wrote about their experience as a same sex couple in Congress — years before same sex marriage was legalized at the federal level.