There are two openly gay
representatives in Congress: Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank and
Wisconsin Rep. Tammy Baldwin. And Jared Polis makes three.
Polis is Tuesday's winner of Colorado's
2nd Congressional District Democratic primary race.
November's general election promises to be pure gesture in this
Democratic stronghold. “The chances of a Republican winning in
this district are zero,” Bob Loevy, a professor of political
science at Colorado College, told Time.
At about 10:30PM Colorado Senate
President Joan Fitz-Gerald conceded the race to Polis. Emotional
tears were shed and the crowd shouted “Jared, Jared, Jared” as he
walked into his campaign party to the tune of U2's “It's a
Beautiful Day,” reported the Rocky Mountain News.
While Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank
is open about his sexuality, he remained closeted for the first five
years of service in the House. Polis will make history as the first
openly gay man elected to the House.
Sexual orientation has not been an
issue in the race. “There aren't many anti-gay votes to be found
in this election,” Loevy said.
“Sexual orientation shouldn't be a
barrier to participate in the public sphere,” said Polis. “It's
a difficult issue for my opponents to try to use against me overtly
without a backlash, but there have been some jabs, insinuations and
Polis, who has served for six years on
the Colorado State Board of Education, is no stranger to politics,
but he's better known for his philanthropic giving. He founded
schools both for the homeless and for immigrants with the millions he
accumulated from Internet companies ProFlowers.com and
Polis, 33, has vowed to be a vocal
champion of gay & lesbian issues. On his website
(polisforcongress.com) he addresses America's most pressing GLBT
inequalities, such as workplace discrimination, marriage rights, and
the military's ban on GLBT people serving openly.
“To strengthen our national defense,
we must cease the removal of capable and courageous members of our
military based exclusively on their openness about their sexual
orientation,” Polis said.
If a gay Congressman from Colorado
strikes you as odd, it should. It certainly would have been
unimaginable 15 years ago when voters in the state passed a
constitutional amendment prohibiting laws to protect gays and
lesbians from discrimination. The U.S. Supreme Court found the law
unconstitutional in 1997.
When asked if he's married, Polis often
says he can't marry his partner of four-and-a-half years, writer,
self-proclaimed animal activist Marlon Reis, because he's gay.