by Rex Wockner
Openly gay Jared Polis was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives on Nov. 4 from Colorado’s second Congressional District, which encompasses areas north and west of Denver, including the city of Boulder.
Polis, a 33-year-old Democrat, is 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.
“The voters of our district have spoken clearly that they want change brought to Washington,” Polis told the Denver Post. “I look forward to taking my out-of-the-box approach and creative ideas to help shake up Washington.”
In his primary-election victory speech in August, 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 $5.6 million of his own funds in the campaign.
Polis becomes the sixth open gay to serve in the House of Representatives, following in the footsteps of Baldwin, current Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), 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 Post in August, “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 said. “Let the young gay people find someone else to emulate.”