Tonight U.S. Representative Jared Polis of Colorado became the first openly gay man elected governor of a U.S. state, defeating his Republican opponent by a strong margin. Throughout the campaign Polis spoke with voters about his partner and children, making him one of the most visible LGBTQ candidates in the nation and a model for how other high-profile LGBTQ candidates can run a statewide campaign. Polis is just the second openly LGBTQ person ever elected governor of a U.S. state – the other being openly bisexual Governor Kate Brown of Oregon, who is up for reelection tonight.
Polis, a Democrat who has served in the House of Representatives since 2009, did not attempt to hide his sexual orientation on the campaign trail, and sometimes used it to emphasize the contrast between himself and President Donald Trump’s administration.
Polis is partnered with Marlon Reis, and the couple have two young children.
“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,” Polis told Colorado Democrats during a speech this year.
His sexual orientation didn’t get any significant attention from his Republican opponent, Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton. But some homophobic bumper stickers against Polis did pop up in the state.
Former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey, a Democrat, came out as gay while in office in 2004. And Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, also a Democrat, is openly bisexual, which made her the first openly LGBTQ person elected governor when she won in 2016.
But Polis is the first openly gay candidate to be elected for governor.
Victory Fund made Polis one of its “Game Changer” candidates. Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund, supported efforts to raise his profile with the Colorado LGBTQ community by joining him at Denver Pride and taking part in a bus tour throughout Colorado early last week.
“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 Mayor Annise Parker, President & 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. 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.”
Four openly LGBTQ people ran for governor this cycle – a historic number. In addition to Polis and Brown, Lupe Valdez ran for governor of Texas and Christine Hallquist for governor of Vermont.
Live Election Night Results: Victory Fund is live-tracking the election results for 225 of its openly LGBTQ endorsed candidates. The latest updates can be found at.
Rainbow Wave by the Numbers: LGBTQ Victory Fund released several reports on the unprecedented Rainbow Wave of openly LGBTQ candidates who ran for office during the 2018 election cycle, including one reporting on the
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