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Will Former Ambassador Dan Baer Be the First Openly Gay Man Elected to U.S. Senate?

by Kilian Melloy
Tuesday Apr 23, 2019

Dan Baer, who served as a U.S. Ambassador during the Obama years, now has his sights set on another role in public service: That of Senator. If elected in the 2020 elections, Baer, 42, would represent Colorado as the first openly gay man to be elected to the Senate.

That's not a bad ambition for someone who witnessed his home state attempt to enforce second-class citizenship on its own LGBTQ citizens with a ballot initiative, Amendment 2, which banned local governments from enacting ordinances that protected sexual minorities or otherwise extending the status of a protected class to them. Text of the amendment read:

Neither the State of Colorado, through any of its branches or departments, nor any of its agencies, political subdivisions, municipalities or school districts, shall enact, adopt or enforce any statute, regulation, ordinance or policy whereby homosexual, lesbian or bisexual orientation, conduct, practices or relationships shall constitute or otherwise be the basis of or entitle any person or class of persons to have or claim any minority status, quota preferences, protected status or claim of discrimination.

Colorado voters approved the ban in 1992, but the U.S. Supreme Court struck it down four years later.

The Denver Post cited voter approval of Amendment 2 as an important moment in Baer's life. "The idea that I could run for office as a gay person in Colorado, in the '90s, was far-fetched," Baer told the paper.

But now he's got his eye on the spot in the Senate occupied by Republican incumbent Cory Gardner, and he's not shy about announcing exactly who he is to prospective voters.

"At the State Department, I fought for LGBTQ rights around the world," Baer declared at his campaign's Facebook page. "Now I'm running for Senate, and if elected I'll be the first openly gay man to serve there.

"Let's make history, and continue to fight for equality for LGBTQ Americans."

Baer posted a campaign video at Twitter along with text that announced, "I'm running for Senate because I care about Colorado and the future of our country. I believe Colorado has something to offer us on the road ahead."

The video at Twitter shows Baer driving for Lyft, interacting with everyday people, and observing, "You know, it's amazing what we learn if we just listen." The video also highlights Baer's statements against Russia's invasion of Ukraine, for which, the video says, Putin's government tried to have him removed from his post at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Sitting down to talk with reporter Kyle Clark of 9News, Baer said that after the 2016 elections that saw Donald Trump win the presidency, "my husband turned to me and said, 'Look, the values that we care about in the world are most under threat at home,' " spurring them to return to Baer's home state of Colorado, where Baer served in state government as the head of the Department of Higher Education.

"I think what most voters probably want to know is I probably have the same concerns as they do," Baer said.

Asked who on the national political scene he aligned with in terms of his ideology, Baer said, "I think I want to be the best version of Dan Baer as I can be. I think I identify with a lot of the people who are talking about the challenges that face our country, both in terms of the presence of dark money and corporate special interests in our politics, as well as the skewed economic outcomes that we have, where we have an economy that is not working for everyone, that has increased inequality, and where even middle-class people feel increasingly insecure" about their prospects for the future.

"America is founded on the idea that competition will drive positive outcomes. We want there to be genuine competition, both in our politics and in our economy," Baer said.

Striking an increasingly familiar chord among progressive candidates, Baer said, "I'm making a pledge at the outset that I will take zero corporate PAC money, and I'm going a step further than that, actually, and pledging from the outset that I will never be a federal lobbyist."

Watch 9News interview below.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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