Colorado Governor Jared Polis has plenty of questions about his September 15 marriage to Marlon Reis. “People say, ‘You know, it took you a long time to get married,’” said Mr. Polis, a Democrat. “But the important thing to remember is that Obergefell v. Hodges only took place in 2015, so we really only waited six years. “
Obergefell v. Hodges is the US Supreme Court case that legalized same-sex marriage. Mr. Polis, 46, and Mr. Reis, 40, met 18 years ago. At the time, neither of them imagined that he could ever have a legal union. Finding other people who identified as LGBTQ in Boulder was hard enough.
“It was a relatively small community here,” Mr. Polis said. “There was no Tinder.” There were, however, discussion sites and forums that helped connect the community. This is how Mr. Polis and Mr. Reis ended up meeting at the Boulder Book Store in September 2003. First came to browse the sci-fi section, then came dinner.
Mr. Reis, a writer specializing in animal welfare and LGBTQ rights, was in his final year of college at the University of Colorado. Mr. Polis was an entrepreneur with political aspirations; before becoming governor in 2019, he served for a decade in the United States House of Representatives. At the bookstore, “we hit it off really well,” Polis said.
By the time they attended MileHiCon, a gathering for science fiction and fantasy fans, a month later, they were falling in love. The weekend convention in Denver was, for Mr. Polis, a criterion of compatibility. “I remember Jared being a little nervous about it, saying, ‘This is the test to see if we can be together for a few days,’ Mr Reis said. ‘I had never seriously dated anyone. As I thought it was, of course everything will be fine.
They were. So much so that by the end of 2005, they had moved to Boulder together. They’ve been committed to each other ever since, with most of their challenges as a couple coming from outside of the relationship rather than inside. “When we arrived in 2009, Washington was not really prepared,” Mr. Reis said. “There were a lot of traditions based on the model member of Congress being a man and the spouse being a woman. Thank goodness that is changing drastically.
Mr. Polis was present for many of these changes. Before becoming the first governor to have a same-sex marriage during his tenure, he was the third openly LGBTQ member of the House of Representatives. Before stepping onto the steps of the Supreme Court on the day same-sex marriage was legalized, he and Mr. Reis were already raising two children; their son is 9 years old, their daughter 7 years old. “For me, having a family was very important, and Marlon was supportive of it,” Polis said. “Now we have a vibrant and exciting home. “
Sometimes the excitement is not what the family expected. In December, Mr. Polis and Mr. Reis contracted the Covid. Mr. Polis’ symptoms were mild. Mr Reis’ problems were serious enough that on December 6 his doctor advised him to go to the hospital. Mr. Polis, who was hiding an engagement ring for Mr. Reis with the Hebrew verse Isaiah 11:16 inscribed on it, was unwilling to wait any longer to make his request. He knelt down and asked Mr. Reis to marry him before driving him to the UCHealth Hospital at the University of Colorado in Denver.
The scene, so romantic, was chaotic. “Our kids were upset and crying, and I was really scared,” Mr. Reis said. “Looking back, it was kinda funny that Jared came up that night. Because I was like, “OK, I hope I’m going to get better.
On September 15, the anniversary of their first date at the Boulder Book Store, Mr. Polis and Mr. Reis were married at the Mary Rippon Outdoor Theater at the University of Colorado in Boulder by Rabbi Tirzah Firestone.
The bride and groom wore vegan costumes designed by Machete & Sons, a local bespoke tailor. Mr. Reis was walking down the aisle with his father; their daughter was a bridesmaid, their son a wedding ring bearer.
Only a few dozen guests, all required to test negative for Covid, attended. The ceremony was planned as a tribute to their ancestors. “The Jewish community has been through so much over the years,” Polis said. “We wanted to include a lot of traditional elements.” These included the signing of a ketubah and the stomping of a glass to the cheers of “mazel tov!” When they were declared married. A non-traditional twist came with the signing of their state-issued marriage license: One of their two witnesses was their terrier mix, Gia, who stuck her paw into an ink pad to legally mark the occasion. . “She was our daughter before we had our daughter,” Mr. Polis said.