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Gov. Jared Polis, left, stands with his partner, Marlon Reis, and waves to the crowd after he is sworn in as the new governor of Colorado. (Kathryn Scott, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis is engaged. And he picked an interesting moment to pop the question. 

First Gentleman Marlon Reis was feeling crummy the day it happened. His condition was deteriorating after battling a coronavirus infection for more than a week. His oxygen saturation levels had dropped to a concerning level. A doctor told him it was time to go to the hospital. 

“I was getting my things ready. My daughter was crying in the corner — she didn’t want me to go,” said Reis, 39, who recounted the proposal to The Colorado Sun during an interview Wednesday afternoon. “My son was asking me a lot of technical questions: ‘When are you coming back? Do they know exactly what’s wrong?’ It was a very tense moment.”

Polis was urging Reis to hurry up, but reassuring him that he’d be OK.

“That irked me even more,” Reis said.

The chaos came to an abrupt stop when Polis got down on one knee and asked Reis, his partner of 17 years, to marry him. 

Gov.-elect Jared Polis stands with his partner, Marlon Reis, and their children, Cora and Caspian, in the west wing before his inauguration at the Colorado Capitol on Tuesday, January 8, 2019. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post/Pool)

“It was the absolute perfect time,” Reis said. “I said to him, ‘I couldn’t breathe before. Now I really can’t breathe.’”

The couple has kept their Dec. 6 engagement mostly private for the past three months. The Sun is first to report the news. Polis is the nation’s first openly gay elected governor.

The couple’s 6-year-old daughter stopped crying after Polis popped the question. She was excited about the prospect of being their flower girl. Reis said their 9-year-old son — “in his typical fashion” — said “I really don’t like your engagement ring.” 

The ring is made of tungsten and is inscribed with a passage from Isaiah 11:6. “Very plain, perfectly in keeping with both our personalities,” is how Reis describes it. 

Gov. Jared Polis and First Gentleman Marlon Reis show off their engagement rings. The rings are inscribed in Hebrew that translates to “Isaiah 11:6.” (Provided photo)

Polis, 45, and Reis haven’t picked a date yet for their wedding, though their children are lobbying them and are persuasive. The governor had been planning to ask Reis to marry him for seven months.

“It put such a spring in my step,” Reis said. “When I got to the hospital I wasn’t scared anymore. I said ‘I have a great relationship, a great family that I’m going to be coming home to after this.’”

Reis was released from the hospital after two days and has since recovered from COVID-19. Polis also caught coronavirus but had only mild symptoms. 

Reis, an animal advocate and writer, said coronavirus has made it clear to people across the world that things we took for granted “can still be taken away from us, sometimes without any notice.” That’s what made the timing of the proposal so perfect. 

“Let’s not wait. Let’s live life while we have it to live,” he said. “Let’s celebrate and look out for each other and keep caring about the things that we care about. Even though we’re dealing with these circumstances, we can’t give up on our dreams.”

The Colorado Sun — Desk: 720-432-2229 Jesse Paul is a Denver-based political reporter and editor at The Colorado Sun, covering the state legislature, Congress and local politics. He is the author of The Unaffiliated newsletter and also occasionally fills...