The state of Colorado made U.S. history on Tuesday night by electing the first openly gay man to the governorship.
According to the New York Post, “Democrat Jared Polis, a congressman from the state’s second district, received 51 percent of the vote compared with state treasurer Walker Stapleton’s 45 percent.”
Polis became the first openly gay man in U.S. history to be elected governor of a state, though he is not the first known openly gay man to hold that office. In 2004, New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey came out as gay while in office after being elected.
Throughout his campaign, Polis often spoke of his commitment to LGBTQ principles, saying his election would send a message to Vice President Mike Pence.
“I think it really gives Colorado an opportunity to stick a thumb in the eye of Mike Pence, whose view of America is not as inclusive as where America is today,” Polis said earlier this year.
The ascension of Polis in Colorado comes at a time when the state has increasingly positioned itself as an enemy of religious liberty, most notably in its persecution of baker Jack Phillips, who refused to bake a same-sex wedding cake due to religious objections. The state’s efforts to disenfranchise the Christian baker were thwarted, however, when the Supreme Court ruled that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission showed unfair hostility towards his religious beliefs.
Since that ruling, the Civil Rights Commission has persisted in its persecution of Phillips for refusing to bake a cake that celebrates gender transitioning. He wrote of the cruelty in USA Today:
On the same day that the Supreme Court announced it would hear my case, a Colorado lawyer called my shop and requested a cake that I’ve never before created. It was a cake with a pink interior and blue exterior that the lawyer said was to represent and celebrate a gender transition.
Because I believe that each person’s sex — whether male or female — is given by God and cannot be chosen or changed, the requested message is not one that I can express through my cake art. But my shop still told the caller that we’d be happy to sell them other items or design cakes with other messages.
Because of the suspicious timing and nature of that request, it’s not surprising that the lawyer filed a discrimination complaint. What’s shocking is that less than one month after the Supreme Court condemned the state’s hostility toward my faith, the government announced that it was coming after me again.
Following the Supreme Court ruling in favor of Phillips, Jared Polis said the decision puts “dignity and basic rights” at risk.
“The decision by the Court is disappointing, but thankfully narrow in scope. Now is the time for Congress to answer definitively by adopting our bipartisan Equality Act into law. We can and must provide LGBTQ people with abundantly clear protections from discrimination in law,” said Polis. “Nobody should have their dignity and basic rights put on trial, just as nobody should have to walk into a store and wonder if they will be denied service because of who they love.”