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social sciences

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Polis, Jared (b. 1975)  
page: 1  2  

Near the end of his tenure on the Board of Education in 2006 Polis came out publicly as a gay man. His partner, Marlon Reis, a writer, was prominently at Polis's side at campaign events when he ran for the United States House of Representatives in the Second District of Colorado and also on election night when they celebrated Polis's victory.

The first openly gay congressional candidate from Colorado, Polis defeated two other candidates, including an establishment favorite who was backed by some gay activists, including fellow philanthropist Tim Gill, to win the Democratic nomination for the seat in an election that set a record for the number of votes cast. In the general election, he glided to an easy victory in one of the most liberal congressional districts in the country.

Sponsor Message.

Running on a promise to help change the culture of Washington, Polis spent heavily--including over five million dollars of his own money in the Democratic primary--to overcome a relative lack of name recognition. While his opponents accused him of attempting to buy the seat, Polis likely won because he presented himself as a candidate with a fresh face and new ideas. Although he had the endorsement of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, his sexual orientation was not a major issue in either the Democratic primary or the general election.

Since going to Washington, Reis has received a Congressional ID card designating him as a spouse although the couple has not been able to realize their wish to marry since marriage equality has yet to be achieved in Colorado.

Polis credits Wisconsin Representative Tammy Baldwin, who is out as a lesbian, for her work to secure spousal privileges for same-sex partners of members of Congress. He counts Baldwin and openly gay Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts among his mentors on Capitol Hill.

At the invitation of Baldwin, Polis became co-chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus, on which Frank also serves. The new Representative thus promises to become an influential spokesperson for glbtq concerns nationally. Among his priorities are the passage of a hate crimes bill and an inclusive non-discrimination law, as well as repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act.

Because of his passionate interest in education, Polis was also appointed to several committees dealing with that issue, as well as others concerning the environment, energy, technology, and health.

Polis was recently appointed to the U. S. Air Force Academy's Board of Visitors. In announcing the appointment, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said, "I am particularly pleased to appoint Jared Polis to the Board of Visitors given the strong ties between his congressional district and the academy near Colorado Springs and his expertise in the field of education coupled with his commitment to our national security." As an openly gay man on record in favor of repealing the ban on openly gay service members in the military, Polis is an unlikely member of the academy's Board, but he may be able to open some eyes.

An opponent of the war in Iraq, Polis made a trip to that country in April 2009. His concerns included not only the military situation but also the and horrendous anti-gay violence that has riven the country, issues that he discussed with the chairwoman of the Iraqi Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights, whom he cautiously described in an interview with Will O'Bryan of Metro Weekly as "generally receptive to the arguments."

Changing the attitude of an entire culture is a daunting task when glbtq people may find it hard to receive acceptance even in their own families. Polis's mother, Sarah Polis Schutz, inspired by her son's coming out, addressed the response of families to such announcements in her 2008 documentary film, Anyone and Everyone, so named because anyone and everyone could have a glbtq child.

The families appearing in her film are a reflection of American society. They come from various religious traditions, including Roman Catholic, Southern Baptist, Hinduism, Mormonism, and Judaism. The ethnic heritage of the subjects is likewise diverse, with people of Bolivian, Japanese, and Cherokee ancestry, among others.

Schutz recalled that she and her husband were "totally shocked" when their son came out to them shortly after his graduation from college but that it made no difference in their love for him. A longtime supporter of civil rights, Schutz, after this intensely personal experience, took an increased interest in glbtq rights and the dynamics of families that include glbtq children.

"I . . . wanted to tell the stories of the conflict, fear, and anguish felt by the families and their gay children when their gay children came out to them. Often even the most supportive parents had mental barriers to get through before fully accepting their gay child on a personal level," she stated.

Her film shows the pressures that religious, ethnic, or other social communities may impose on glbtq youth and their parents, but it also offers the families hope of finding a strong, supportive community. Schutz attended meetings of PFLAG (Parents, Familes and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) across the country and included footage of them in the documentary.

While recognizing the continuing societal prejudice in America and "antiquated laws and unequal rights that inhumanely and negatively affect gay people all over the world," Schutz expressed her optimism for positive change, saying, "I hope that Anyone and Everyone will accomplish its mission and help make it easier for all gay people and their families to live a perfectly normal life that is respected by everyone."

On September 30, 2011, Polis and Reis announced the birth of their son, Caspian Julius.

Linda Rapp

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arts >> Overview:  Documentary Film

The queer community has used documentary film to resurrect historical memory and to permit the marginalized to bear witness, as well as to build an image base that reflects our diversity and counters distorted representations.

social sciences >> Overview:  Elected Officials

In the United States, glbtq candidates have achieved some significant successes at the ballot box in the last three decades, running for and winning local, state, and national elections.

social sciences >> Overview:  Hate Crimes

Hate Crimes are crimes towards persons or groups motivated by the victim's race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

social sciences >> Overview:  Same-Sex Marriage

Lesbian and gay couples have been fighting for the freedom to marry since the dawn of the modern glbtq struggle for equality; despite some success abroad, progress toward same-sex marriage in the United States has been slow.

social sciences >> Overview:  Workplace Discrimination

Although work remains to be done, the expansion of protection from workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation stands as one of the significant accomplishments of the American lesbian and gay civil rights movement.

social sciences >> Baldwin, Tammy

The first out lesbian elected to the United States Congress, Democratic legislator Tammy Baldwin has been a strong supporter of glbtq rights, but she is far from a one-issue politician.

social sciences >> Cicilline, David

U. S. Representative David Cicilline, who made history as the first openly gay mayor of a state capital, has a long record of public service.

social sciences >> Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) authorizes states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages or domestic partnerships or civil unions and it requires that federal bureaus and agencies recognize only opposite-sex marriages.

social sciences >> Don't Ask, Don't Tell

The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, in effect from 1993 until 2011, was a compromise intended to end discrimination against gay men and lesbians in the U. S. military, but it failed to halt discharges based solely on sexual orientation.

social sciences >> Frank, Barney

Openly gay U. S. congressman Barney Frank has been a leader not only in the cause of gay and lesbian rights but also on issues including fair housing, consumer rights, banking, and immigration.

social sciences >> Gill, Tim

Founder of the Gill Foundation, computer entrepreneur and philanthropist Tim Gill has used his wealth to benefit the glbtq community.

social sciences >> Maloney, Sean Patrick

Long a champion of glbtq and progressive causes, Sean Patrick Maloney was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 2012 to become the first openly gay U.S. Representative from New York state.

social sciences >> Michaud, Michael H. ("Mike")

Michael H. Michaud, who has served in both houses of the Maine legislature as well as in the U.S. House of Representatives, came out publicly in 2013 during his campaign for the governorship of Maine.

social sciences >> Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)

Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), an American organization of some 460 affiliated chapters and 80,000 members, works to support glbtq people and their loved ones.

social sciences >> Pocan, Mark

A former seven-term member of the Wisconsin Assembly, Mark Pocan easily won election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012.

social sciences >> The Point Foundation

The Point Foundation offers financial support and mentoring to college students who have been marginalized because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

social sciences >> Sinema, Kyrsten 

After serving several terms in the Arizona state legislature, Kyrsten Sinema ran successfully for the United States House of Representatives in 2012, becoming the first openly bisexual person elected to that body.

social sciences >> Studds, Gerry

Representative Gerry Studs, a Democrat from Massachusetts, was the first member of the United States Congress to acknowledge that he was gay.

social sciences >> Takano, Mark

In 2012, Mark Takano, a Japanese American from Riverside, California, became the first openly gay person of color to be elected to the United States House of Representatives.


"Anyone and Everyone: A Documentary Film by Susan Polis Schutz":

Cahill, Pat. "Gay Child Inspires Movie." The Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts) (February 29, 2008): E1.

Frank, Robert. Richistan: A Journey through the American Wealth Boom and the Lives of the New Rich. New York: Crown, 2007.

Heil, Emily. "So What If He's Gay?; Jared Polis Avoids Drama." Roll Call (December 15, 2008): Around the Hill, K.

Jared Polis Foundation:

Johnson, Chris. "Mr. Polis Goes to Washington." Washington Blade (March 13, 2009):

O'Bryan, Will. "Out in Congress." Metro Weekly (June 23, 2009):

Polis, Jared. U.S. House of Representatives website:

Roberts, Michael. "Young Blood: Rising Political Powerhouse Jared Polis Is Rich, Tireless, and Filled with Contradictions." Denver Westworld (August 19, 2004):


    Citation Information
    Author: Rapp, Linda  
    Entry Title: Polis, Jared  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2009  
    Date Last Updated October 3, 2011  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2009 glbtq, Inc.  


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