In First, Two Openly Gay Candidates Battle for State Senate

Supporters say no matter who wins, their issues will take center stage

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Senate candidates for Colorado's 31st district Pat Steadman and Michael Carr.

TAMPA---When the GOP released its draft party platform this week, it included a call for a constitutional amendment to define marriage as "the union between a man and a woman."

But in a district at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, that kind of anti-gay sentiment doesn't exist for Republicans.

In Colorado's 31st district—which includes parts of Denver—openly gay Republican Michael Carr is running for state Senate with the blessing of the Colorado Republican Party. And in what appears to be a first for a major state race, Carr's opponent is also gay.

Carr, who was put on the Republican ticket after the original candidate dropped out, said the party approached him to run. The Colorado GOP said it would run "whoever was qualified."

But it's possible Carr won't get the gay vote. The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, which works to elect LGBT lawmakers, has already endorsed Carr's opponent, Pat Steadman. Carr is now going through an application process to try to earn the group's co-endorsement.

The Log Cabin Republicans, the most prominent group promoting LGBT issues in the Republican party, says people like Carr show progress is being made despite the "abysmal" GOP platform.

"We started running our own people after our allies in the RNC said 'you really need to do this,' " said Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director Clarke Cooper during an interview here. "It sends more of a message to run people for office."

And while Tampa's attention is on the GOP's draft platform, the gay community in Colorado is celebrating a state Senate race they say they can't lose.

"If you don't support Carr or the GOP, that's fine. Don't vote for him," wrote Nic Garcia of OutFront Colorado earlier this month. "[But] I can sleep easily at night knowing no matter who wins the state Senate 31 race, I'll be represented by an out-and-proud gay man."

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  • Elizabeth Flock is a staff writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact her at or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

    CORRECTED 09/06/2012: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated a draft of the 2012 Republican Party platform document included language to reinstate the policy banning gays from serving openly in the military.