An openly gay man won the Democratic primary in Colorado's 2nd Congressional District Aug. 12 and is considered a shoo-in to win the general election in November.
If he does, Jared Polis, 33, will become the first openly gay man elected to Congress who was out when elected for the first time. U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., holds the female distinction in that regard.
“At the Millennium March on Washington in 2000, Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin told hundreds of thousands of LGBT people gathered on the National Mall, ‘If you dream of a world in which there are more openly gay elected officials, then run for office … and you will live in such a world,’” said Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund President Chuck Wolfe. “I thought of that quote this evening when I learned that Rep. Baldwin an
Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) will be joined by another openly gay colleague in the United States House of Representatives.”
Wolfe called Polis’ likely win in the heavily Democratic district an important gay milestone.
“It sends an unmistakable signal that voters are willing to consider gay people as leaders at the highest level of government, and brings us closer to the American ideal of a truly representative government,” he said.
In his victory speech, Polis introduced his partner, made reference to being gay, and said, “I always worried that that would get in the way (of) giving back and contributing to our society.”
A millionaire who made his money in online ventures, Polis spent $5 million of his own funds in the primary campaign.
If elected, he will fill the seat of Rep. Mark Udall, who is running for the U.S. Senate.
Polis would become the sixth open gay to serve in the House of Representatives, following in the footsteps of Baldwin, Frank, and former Reps. Gerry Studds, D-Mass., who is deceased, Steve Gunderson, R-Wis., and Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz.
Frank, 68, is now the powerful chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.
Frank told the Denver Post, “We are reaching that point where among Democratic voters sexual orientation of a candidate is not a factor.”
He also said that once he's no longer the only gay male congressman, he won't feel as much pressure to be a role model and plans to start smoking cigars in public again.
“I can start indulging some bad habits,” Frank told the Post. “Let the young gay people find someone else to emulate.”