Gay House Speaker Marks First for Colorado

By Sunnivie Brydum

Originally published on Advocate.com November 08 2012 5:08 PM ET

Rep. Mark Ferrandino, a gay Denver democrat, was nominated as Speaker of the Colorado State House of Representatives on Thursday, The Denver Post reports. Ferrandino is the first openly LGBT legislator in Colorado history to preside over the chamber, and joins eight out LGBT lawmakers in the state's legislature. Ferrandino will accept the gavel on January 9, the first day of the 2013 legislative session.

"It's definitely very humbling," Ferrandino said, "and I'm excited to be able to get to work and try and pass good policy for the people of Colorado."

Ferrandino's election comes six months after the former Speaker, Republican Frank McNulty, staged a dramatic shutdown of the state House in order to kill a bipartisan civil unions bill sponsored by Ferrandino and out state Sen. Pat Steadman. With Ferrandino as Speaker, Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, and a governor who has been an outspoken advocate for civil unions, the twice-failed legislation is nearly certain to pass in the upcoming legislative session.

"Sen. Steadman and I have always said we are going to keep introducing [civil unions] until it passes," Ferrandino told The Advocate exclusively. "We'll definitely introduce it next year, and I think next year will be the year that it passes given the change in leadership. We have a majority in the House and Senate who will support the bill, and a leadership who will bring it up, unlike last year."

First on Ferrandino's agenda, however, are the issues echoed on the campaign trail leading to Tuesday's election. Ferrandino, who served as minority leader before Tuesday's election secured a 37-28 Democratic majority in the House, said his top priorities would be economic issues, jobs, and securing education funding for Colorado's children.

That's a particularly salient issue for Ferrandino who with his husband, Greg Wertsch, recently welcomed a baby girl into their lives — the new fathers are fostering the girl, with hopes to adopt her.

Ferrandino joins openly gay House speakers in California and Rhode Island, the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund told The Post.