Colorado Democratic US Rep. Jared Polis elected as his state’s next governor, becoming the nation’s first openly gay man elected to a governor’s mansion, CNN reports.
Polis, an entrepreneur and five-term member of Congress from Boulder, beat Republican Walker Stapleton by six points in Colorado’s gubernatorial contest. But Polis’s splash into the history books is all the more significant considering the ugly track record of the state he has been elected to run.
Since the early 1990s, Colorado has played a key role in the battle for LGBT rights. The state was dubbed the “hate state” because of a 1992 law that sparked international backlash and boycotts. But the same legislation teed up a landmark 1996 U.S. Supreme Court decision that helped lay the groundwork for marriage equality.
“It’s a historic win — not just for the LGBT community but for the state of Colorado,” Annise Parker, president and CEO of the Victory Fund, a nonprofit group supporting LGBT politicians, told the Denver Post on Tuesday.
“The fact that the state of Colorado, in 25 years, has gone from being dubbed the ‘hate state’ to a place that can elect someone who is not just openly gay, but publicly gay, that’s historic.”
During his gubernatorial bid, Polis has pushed for universal health care, free early childhood education and progressing Colorado to a 100% 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.