The Colorado House of Representatives opened under its first openly gay speaker, Denver Democratic lawmaker Mark Ferrandino today.
Ferrandino said that his top three priorities this session will be the economy, the budget and education, and that he remains hopeful that legislators will be able to come to bipartisan agreements on issues.
"To blindly and cynically condemn government is to willfully ignore the many ways it makes our lives more secure and contributes to our shared prosperity," Ferrandino said Wednesday. "Likewise, to blindly defend government is to ignore the fact that, like any human institution, it can be improved."
Ferrandino thanked his husband Greg Wertsch during his remarks, and his brother and grandfather, "the more conservative members of the family" who weren't in attendance during his speech. Ferrandino said that the arguments he has with them have prepped him for the coming discussions with House Minority Leader Mark Waller.
He also quoted the now former Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank: "Government is simply the name we give to the things we choose to do together." Frank was one of the first lawmakers to publicly reveal he is gay.
Later on in his speech though, Ferrandino also quoted conservative icon Ayn Rand, calling her one of his favorite authors before saying "we must acknowledge that all committed couples deserve equal protection under the law, forever end Colorado's 'hate state' nickname, and, with bipartisan cooperation, pass civil unions this year."
Colorado Democratic Senator Michael Bennet also issued a statement today congratulating Ferrandino on his new position as speaker:
What is arguably even more powerful (than Ferrandino's election as the state's first openly gay speaker) is the larger trend that Mark’s achievement represents – in just a few short years we have seen our state and our country make significant strides when it comes to the civil rights of our LGBT friends, family members, and neighbors.
But there is still work to be done. Washington must ensure that loving and committed LGBT couples are no longer relegated to second-class citizenship by repealing the federal Defense of Marriage Act and doing away with other discriminatory policies that have no place in our nation’s laws.
Shortly after the Legislature reconvened, One Colorado announced in an email that State Senators Pat Steadman and Lucia Guzman re-introduced the Colorado Civil Union Act, which is widely expected to be streamlined to Gov. John Hickenlooper's desk.