This is huge. Congratulations to Jared Polis, who has won the Dem primary in Colorado's 2nd district for the U.S. House. Since this is a heavily Democratic district (it includes Boulder), it means Polis is almost a lock to be the first openly gay man elected to Congress as a non-incumbent.
Polis took the stage and said he was about to make history and then introduced his partner. Citing his sexual orientation, he said, "I always worried that that would get in the way (of) giving back and contributing to our society."
...Polis threw more than $5 million of his own money into the campaign - the most expensive congressional primary in state history - to beat [former state senator Joan] Fitz-Gerald, 60, a rival with a high-profile political history and the backing of unions and many Democratic party loyalists.
"Tonight is just a beginning," Polis told an screaming crowd. "There are other important races to be won," he added, referring to Presidential contender Barack Obama and Mark Udall's Senate race.
What's significant is that Jared's sexual orientation was not an issue during the campaign. More below the fold.
"Sexual orientation shouldn't be a barrier to participation in the public sphere," says Polis, who has received encouragement from gays and lesbians from around the country. "It's a difficult issue for my opponents to try to use against me overtly without a backlash," he says, "but there have been some jabs, insinuations and whisper campaigns."
This has national implications -- Colorado is considered a swing state in November, and can be held up as a sign that progressive change is in the wind. Take every opportunity to remind people that the state is the home base of Focus on the Family (its in Colorado Springs) and spin this as yet another indication that Daddy D and his ilk are on the decline. The Homosexual Agenda is creeping into his back yard.
I met Jared at last year's International Gay & Lesbian Leadership Conference (right), and he's a great guy, a true progressive and is so deserving of this landmark win. The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund put his win in historical context:
Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund, which endorsed Polis. "Jared's victory brings us one step closer to fulfilling America's promise of truly representative government."
Polis would become the sixth openly gay member to serve in the House of Representatives. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat elected from Wisconsin in 1998, was the first openly gay person to be elected to the U.S. House as a non-incumbent. Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, also a Democrat, announced he was gay in 1987 after having served several terms in the House. Frank is now the powerful chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. The late Gerry Studds, a Democrat of Massachusetts, came out publicly while serving in the House, as did former Congressman Steve Gunderson, a Republican from Wisconsin, and former Congressman Jim Kolbe, a Republican from Arizona. No openly gay or lesbian person has yet been elected to the U.S. Senate.
And in what has to be part of relishing this victory, Jared Polis earned a shoutout from Oklahoma bigot Sally Kern for being one of those damn gay donors working for equality.
"Little by little, they're taking ground...Little by little. But they're doing it quietly - under the table. They're going into states where the races are close. They're putting in lots of money."
Well, Sally, Jared won't be quiet once he steps up into the halls of Congress.