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Colorado House Democrats select first openly gay leader

Mark Ferrandino

Mark Ferrandino

DENVER — Democrats in the Colorado House of Representatives on Friday selected Rep. Mark Ferrandino of Denver to be their new minority leader, making him the first openly gay man in the state’s history to hold such a high leadership position in the legislature.

Mark Ferrandino

And if Democrats in 2012 take back the House, which Republicans now hold with a 33-32 majority, Ferrandino could be in line to become the first gay speaker in state history, reported the Denver Post.

Ferrandino, 34, said the fact that he was able to ascend to such a high leadership position as a gay man shows how Coloradans’ views on sexual orientation have changed over the years.

“It’s become a nonissue, which is what it should be,” Ferrandino said.

Earlier this year, Ferrandino co-sponsored legislation to allow civil unions for same-sex couples in Colorado — the bill failed but it’s widely expected that he will try again next year.

Ferrandino replaces Rep. Sal Pace of Pueblo, who is running for U.S. Congress and who announced earlier this week that he was stepping down from his leadership post.

“I will be a vocal advocate for the values and principles we care about as Coloradoans and as Democrats,” said Ferrandino.

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