How should we re­fer to Gov.-elect Jared Po­lis’ long­time part­ner?

The Denver Post - - DENVER & THE WEST - By Nic Gar­cia Nic Gar­cia: 303-954-2409, ngar­cia@den­ver­ or @NicGar­cia

The crowd roared when Gov.-elect Jared Po­lis in­tro­duced his long­time part­ner, Mar­lon Reis, as “Col­orado’s first man” Tues­day night.

But is “first man” re­ally his ti­tle?

The short an­swer: It can be what­ever Reis wants.

The long an­swer is that state law is silent on the mat­ter, ac­cord­ing to the Of­fice of Leg­isla­tive Le­gal Ser­vices. In fact, there’s no of­fi­cial ti­tle for any spouse or part­ner for any elected of­fi­cial. The term “first lady,” the most com­mon des­ig­na­tion for the po­lit­i­cal spouse in a het­ero­sex­ual re­la­tion­ship, is more of a tra­di­tion and cour­tesy, ac- cord­ing to Robert Hickey, au­thor of the book “Honor & Re­spect: The Of­fi­cial Guide to Names, Ti­tles, and Forms of Ad­dress.”

It ap­pears that male spouses of fe­male gov­er­nors have com­monly taken the ti­tle of “first gen­tle­man.” That was the re­ported des­ig­na­tion for­mer Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton was ex­pected to take on if for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton was elected pres­i­dent.

With Po­lis be­ing the na­tion’s first elected openly gay gover­nor, there’s lit­tle prece­dent for Reis’ ti­tle. In­ter­na­tion­ally, Gau­thier Deste­nay, the hus­band of Lux­em­bourg Prime Min­is­ter Xavier Bet­tel, has been ad­dressed in English as “first gen­tle­man,” as well.

How­ever, to add an­other wrin­kle, Po­lis and Reis aren’t legally mar­ried. Be­fore they mar­ried, The Den­ver Post re­ferred to Robin Pringle as Gov. John Hick­en­looper’s girl­friend. How­ever, the Ore­gon news me­dia re­ferred to for­mer Gov. John Kitzhaber’s fi­ancée as the first lady. She em­braced the ti­tle and role.

Reis has had a low po­lit­i­cal pro­file both dur­ing Po­lis’ ten­ure as a con­gress­man and dur­ing his cam­paign for gover­nor.

The Po­lis cam­paign has asked the me­dia to re­fer to Reis as the first man, be­cause that’s how Po­lis re­ferred to him in his vic­tory speech.

AAron On­tiveroz, The Den­ver Post

Mar­lon Reis watches as his part­ner, Col­orado Gov.-elect Jared Po­lis, speaks to sup­port­ers dur­ing the Demo­cratic watch party in down­town Den­ver on Tues­day.

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