Colo. Democrats pick state's 1st gay House speaker

Associated Press
FILE - This May 9, 2012, file photo shows House Minority Leader Mark Ferrandino, left,  with  Rep. Lois Court, D-Denver,  in the House chamber at the Capitol in Denver on the last day of the session. Democratic lawmakers picked Denver Rep. Mark Ferrandino on Thursday Nov. 8, 2012, to lead the House, which they re-took in this week's election. Ferrandino is the first openly gay House speaker in state history.  (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski, file)
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FILE - This May 9, 2012, file photo shows House Minority Leader Mark Ferrandino, left, with Rep. Lois Court, D-Denver, in the House chamber at the Capitol in Denver on the last day of the session. Democratic lawmakers picked Denver Rep. Mark Ferrandino on Thursday Nov. 8, 2012, to lead the House, which they re-took in this week's election. Ferrandino is the first openly gay House speaker in state history. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski, file)

DENVER (AP) — Colorado Democrats have elected the first openly gay House speaker in state history, giving control of the chamber to a man who was the public face of a fierce debate over civil union legislation that Republicans defeated six months ago.

Democratic lawmakers on Thursday picked Denver Rep. Mark Ferrandino to lead the state House, which they re-took in this week's election. His election won't be official until lawmakers reconvene in January and Republicans ratify the pick.

According to the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, there are currently two openly gay House speakers in state legislatures: John Perez in California and Gordon Fox in Rhode Island.

Ferrandino's ascent is particularly notable in a state where voters banned gay marriage six years ago, and prohibited municipalities from passing laws to protect gays from discrimination 20 years ago.

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