Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) became the nation’s first out gay male governor in 2018. He is also his state’s first Jewish governor and its first to be in a same-sex marriage. Though he has been a vocal advocate for education, online privacy, and cannabis reform, he has also proved a champion for LGBTQ rights.
Jared Polis At a Glance
- Location: Colorado
- Current Position: Governor
- Party Affiliation: Democrat
- Race/Ethnicity: White
- Gender Identity: Cisgender man
- Sexual Orientation: Gay
- Pronouns: He/His
- LGBTQ Ally: Yes
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Polis was born in Boulder, Colorado in 1975. He graduated with a B.A. in politics from Princeton University in 1996.
While at Princeton, he founded American Information Systems (AIS), an internet access provider. In 1996, he co-founded bluemountain.com, a free electronic greeting card website. In 1998, he founded ProFlowers, an online florist.
He later helped establish TechStars, a funding organization for tech entrepreneurs.
In 2000, he was elected to the Colorado State Board of Education and served for six years. In 2006, he co-chaired Coloradans for Clean Government, a group supporting ethical lobbying and campaign finance reform. In 2007, he co-chaired the “Building for Our Future” campaign to modernize aging school facilities.
In 2008, Polis was elected to the U.S. House. He won re-election until his 2019 resignation. While in the House, he served on committees for education, natural resources, and House rules.
In 2018, he was elected as Colorado’s governor. He assumed office in 2019.
Polis’ stance on LGBTQ issues
While in the U.S. Congress, Polis was a member of the LGBT Equality Caucus. There, he supported legalized marriage equality, discrimination protections for LGBTQ students and workers, LGBTQ hate crime protections, and the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the U.S. military ban on LGBTQ service members.
As Colorado’s governor, he has signed numerous bills expanding LGBTQ civil rights.
In 2012, after then-President Barack Obama publicly endorsed support for same-sex marriage, Polis replied, “I applaud the Administration for finally recognizing what my colleagues and I have long criticized, to deny people the ability to officially acknowledge their relationship and feel welcomed as partners only for being LGBT is absurd.”
In response to Supreme Court’s June 2022 decision overturning the legal right to an abortion, Polis said, “No one has the right to interfere with our personal freedoms and privacy but that is what the Supreme Court has done. Which is why Americans need Congress to pass laws to ensure that the right to end a pregnancy, same-sex marriage, legal access to contraception, and interracial marriage are protected.”
Transgender access to public bathrooms
Polis has called anti-trans bathroom bills “un-American.” He was one of the lead signers on a Supreme Court amicus brief siding with Gavin Grimm, a transgender student requesting access to school bathrooms matching his gender identity.
At the time, Polis said, “Public schools need to serve all children, including transgender kids, and now they don’t have that kind of certainty around the best way to do that and avoid costly lawsuits and meet the learning needs of all kids.”
Trans children in sports
In February 2022, Polis criticized Republican bills banning transgender youth from playing school sports.
“These hard policies about saying certain youth can’t play sports, and certain people aren’t allowed in certain places, or micromanaging what restroom people use and mandating what they do are really, frankly, un-American and are an example of Republican overreach, which will ultimately hurt their party, if they can’t espouse the full diversity of the American people,” he said.
“Look, words matter. Laws matter,” he said in an interview with CNN’s State of the Union. “When a group of people, LGBTQ youth, feel targeted by the words and laws that some politicians espouse, of course, it can increase anxiety, depression.”
Don’t say gay/LGBTQ discussion in schools
Before Florida’s now-infamous “Don’t Say Gay” bill was signed into law, Polis urged the state’s Republican governor to veto the bill.
“The bill is essentially a complete ban on lessons of LGBTQ history and oppression,” Polis said. “I mean, the Nazi persecution of gays and lesbians alongside Jews and others is part of accurate history, as is the impact of historical LGBT figures from Alexander the Great to Alan Turning.”
Same-sex couples’ right to adopt
Polis, a gay parent, signed a bill in May 2022 to help same-sex parents more easily adopt children.
While signing the bill, Polis said, “This bill is very simple. It just makes it easier and reduces paperwork for counties and for both parents of a child through assisted reproduction to be the parents of a child, instead of one parent having to do an adoption process, which takes time and costs the county money. This makes it automatic, just like it is for non-assisted reproduction. This bill really affirms our commitment to a Colorado for all.”
During his time in the U.S. Congress, Polis was a co-sponsor of the 2010 Equality Act. The act would have amended the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to ban anti-LGBTQ discrimination in employment, education, housing, government programs, and public accommodations.
Other LGBTQ issues
As governor, Polis has signed bills requiring state agencies to collect data about sexual orientation and gender identity, requiring private insurance plans to cover gender-affirming health care, and a ban on so-called conversion therapy.
He has also signed bills instating a ban on gay and transgender panic defenses, a bill allowing trans people to change their gender markers on state ID, and additional funding for HIV prevention.
- Founder of American Information Systems
- Founder of bluemountain.com
- Founder of ProFlowers
- Elected to the Colorado State Board of Education in 2006
- Co-chair of Coloradans for Clean Government
- Co-chair of the “Building for Our Future” campaign
- U.S. House representative 2008 – 2018
- Colorado governor from 2019 onward
Jared Polis is a gay father who is a longtime champion of LGBTQ rights.
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