Democrat Jared Polis just won the Colorado gubernatorial race, beating out Republican Walker Stapleton and becoming the country’s first openly gay governor.
Polis has served as the U.S. Representative for Colorado’s 2nd congressional district since 2009. In office, Polis has championed education reforms, LGBTQ+ rights, and environmental initiatives, including voting for funding for green public schools and sponsoring a bill prohibiting discrimination based on sexual identity. He’s also pro-choice and in support of marijuana legalization. Before his near-decade in Congress, he was a member of the Colorado State Board of Education from 2001 until 2007 as well as a successful entrepreneur, creating and selling three companies for more than $1 billion.
Polis vows to use his position as governor to make an impact on the lives of all Coloradans. “I’m always looking for where I can make the biggest positive impact on our state. I’ve done that with education, when I was on the state Board of Education, and in Congress,” he told the Colorado Springs Gazette. “When I look at the opportunities to really lead — saving people money on health care, protecting our environment and growing our economy — I think that a lot of that will come down to the state level.”
His election also represents an important step forward for the greater LGBTQ+ community, as representation has always lagged in politics. Currently, there are 500 total openly LGBTQ+ candidates across all levels of government, which equals roughly 0.1% of all elected government positions. There are only six openly LGBTQ+ U.S. Representatives and only one openly LGBTQ+ Senator. According to the Victory Institute, members of the LGBTQ+ community would need to get elected to 22,827 seats to have equitable representation.