GLAAD president Montez tapped to head gay-rights group One Colorado

[dropcap]O[/dropcap]ne Colorado, the state’s main gay-rights advocacy group, announced this morning that it has appointed Colorado native Dave Montez as its new executive director. Montez comes to the group from GLAAD, a leading national organization that has worked to expand representation of gay life and gay issues in the entertainment and news industries. Montez was acting president.

“This is personal for me,” he said in a release. “From coming of age as a gay Latino kid in a rural Southern Colorado town to lobbying my legislator for the passage of civil unions – and everything in between – I understand what LGBT equality means for Coloradans and our families.”

Montez has also worked for the Gill Foundation, the Denver-based organization founded by Tim Gill that has successfully fueled much of the movement for gay equality in the country over the past two decades. The Gill Foundation is a primary supporter of One Colorado.

Montez led Gill efforts to build support for gay rights among Latinos and to encourage LGBT organizations to support immigration reform, according to the One Colorado release.

Montez has large shoes to fill. Former One Colorado Director Brad Clark, who left to join the national Human Rights Campaign earlier this year, demonstrated an amazingly deft touch at advancing the cause of equal rights in Colorado.

An affable and unflappable Iowa native, Clark is the rare activist who is unable to offend in any quarter. In conversation with the Independent in 2010, he talked about how he planned to approach his work in Colorado. He seemed already to grasp something fundamental about the state culture. He said Colorado was like the Midwest but different. He said people here are open and accepting, like they are in Iowa, but the western libertarian strain was different — an ethos that pervaded and provided both opportunity and challenges to the One Colorado mission.

He said Coloradans want to live and let live, that they generally accept their neighbors and friends as they are. That’s good, something strong to build on. But minority populations need support, he said. “We depend on community to secure our rights and to guard against abuse.”

Clark traveled the length and width of Colorado and asked the people he met with about what kind of things they worried about most, day to day. One Colorado proceeded to expand its footprint exponentially, gaining 30,000 supporters, some from every county in the state, and notching 2,000 individual donors. Faith leaders were prominent members of the coalitions One Colorado built under Clark’s leadership.

The group spearheaded major campaigns in support of legislation that legalized same-sex civil unions and strengthened efforts to address school bullying. The group made large strides in winning better health care for transgender Coloradans.