|Mark Ferrandino, openly gay Speaker of the Colorado House|
Before Tuesday, Republicans had previously had a very slim 1-vote majority in the House and the Republican Speaker of the House had used that power to kill a pending civil unions bill in the legislature last year. After Tuesday the Democrats won a 37-28 advantage in the state House and have chosen openly gay Mark Ferrandino to lead their caucus and become the first openly gay Speaker of the Colorado House:
Now that is what I call pay back! Amazingly, Colorado almost had gay men as heads of both houses of the legislature as openly gay Pat Steadman ran to become President of the Colorado Senate but lost the vote in the 20-member Senate Democratic caucus to John Morse.“Twenty years ago, Amendment 2 passed in Colorado,” an emotional Mr. Ferrandino said after his election, referring to a 1992 state constitutional amendment passed by voters that banned laws protecting gay men and lesbians from discrimination. “And now we have our first openly gay speaker. I think that is an amazing turnaround for our state. It speaks volumes for how much we’ve grown.”Amendment 2, which led some to call Colorado “the hate state,” was ultimately ruled unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court. A separate 2006 amendment to the state Constitution defined marriage as being only between a man and a woman.Mr. Ferrandino said that the economy and education were legislative priorities, but that in terms of expanding rights for gay men and lesbians, “civil unions is the thing we really are pushing for.”
Openly gay Speaker of the House John Perez congratulated Ferrandino and also acknowledged that Oregon State Representative Tina Kotek may become the nation's first openly lesbian Speaker of the House soon.