How Should We Refer To Governor Elect Jared Polis’ Longtime Partner?

The crowd roared when Governor-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, according 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.

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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 fiancee 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 clarified that Reis will take the title “first gentleman.”

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How Should We Refer To Governor Elect Jared Polis’ Longtime Partner?

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How Should We Refer To Governor Elect Jared Polis’ Longtime Partner?

How Should We Refer To Governor Elect Jared Polis’ Longtime Partner?

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How Should We Refer To Governor Elect Jared Polis’ Longtime Partner?

How Should We Refer To Governor Elect Jared Polis’ Longtime Partner?

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How Should We Refer To Governor Elect Jared Polis’ Longtime Partner?