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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Openly Gay Congressman Heads ’Fearless Campaign’

By Kilian Melloy -
Jared Polis
Jared Polis

Openly gay Congressman Jared Polis has launched an organization dedicated to putting "people over politics." The new group, The Fearless Campaign, is "an effort from the halls of Congress to coordinate fearless elected officials with the passion of grassroots advocates who want to transform our country from the inside out," according to a Jan. 26 press release.

Polis, a Democratic Congressman from Colorado, is the first openly gay man to be elected to the House of Representatives as a freshman. Polis officially initiated The Fearless Campaign on Jan. 26

"At its core, the Fearless Campaign is about putting people over politics," Polis said in the press release. "It’s an opportunity for everyday Americans to transform their country from the inside out."

Equal legal and civil rights for LGBT Americans is among the group’s primary areas of focus, according to the press release.

"In the weeks and months ahead we will be rolling out six issue campaigns under the Fearless banner," the release stated, going on to list the upcoming campaigns:

  • Reforming education

  • Fixing our broken immigration policy

  • Fighting for LGBT rights

  • Repealing the failed prohibition of marijuana

  • Removing special interests from our food policy

  • Ensuring that the Internet remains free, open and neutral

    "Many advocacy groups try to influence Washington from the outside," the release continued. "The Fearless Campaign will help transform our country from the inside out."

    Polis, who is a successful Internet entrepreneur, has amassed a personal fortune estimated at $160 million. His philanthropic efforts include the creation of The Jared Polis Foundation, which seeks to bolster education in technology-related areas.

    "As elected officials, members of Congress face many pressures--from the special interests competing for every vote to the fierce partisans demanding loyalty over independence," text at the new group’s web site reads. "Too often, decisions that should be made in our country’s best interests are based on short-term political calculations.

    "The Fearless Campaign empowers politicians to take sometimes difficult stands on politically charged issues," the web site’s text continues. "We provide voters with timely and accurate information from Capitol Hill so they can effectively and efficiently lobby their representatives. And we encourage members of Congress to vote with their constituents in mind, regardless of the perceived political risks.

    "Being Fearless is never easy," adds the site’s text. "It requires moral courage and a solid grassroots backing. But by connecting advocates at the grassroots level with those in Congress who are standing up for progress, the Fearless Campaign will move our country forward."

    The site specifically addressed the issue of civil and legal equality for GLBT Americans, holding up a recent political victory for GLBT patriots as an example. "As we saw in the struggle to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the public strongly supported removing this discrimination from our laws," the site’s text noted. "Yet, many of our lawmakers, feared what would happen if they voted to extend these rights to LGBT Americans, and instead played politics with individuals’ freedom. Because of that, we almost lost the opportunity to repeal this discriminatory law, and the repeal took far longer than it should have--17 years.

    "When politicians rely on political fear more than moral courage when asked to stand up for a group of Americans who do not have the political voice to stand on their own, then we as a nation suffer," the site’s text added.

    "Even with the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, there are still laws that codify discrimination against the LGBT community," the text went on to note. "The Defense of Marriage Act, which prevents legal state marriages from being recognized for federal purposes such as taxes, is one of the most odious. Gays and lesbians can be fired because of what they do in their private lives in many states, and young gay people are bullied at school leading to depression and an elevated suicide rate.

    "We can repeal these discriminatory laws and protect the equal rights of all Americans," added the text at the new organization’s web site, "but only by building a broad coalition of courageous pro-equality leaders."

  • Kilian Melloy reviews media, conducts interviews, and writes commentary for EDGEBoston, where he also serves as Assistant Arts Editor.

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