Local Democratic official faces backlash for calling colleague an anti-gay slur

Author: John Russell

A Colorado county commissioner is facing backlash after reportedly lobbing an anti-gay slur at another elected official.

According to Martinez Ortega and Pueblo County Democratic Party chair Bri Buentello, the only other person who witnessed the incident, Griego ended a brief, contentious interaction with Martinez Ortega by saying, “Laters, j**o boy.”

Martinez Ortega was seated with a group of prominent LGBTQ+ citizens during the dinner, at which openly gay Colorado WINS chief of staff Nick Voss was being honored. He has speculated that may have been why Griego used that particular slur.

Buentello claims that Griego later pulled her aside to try to justify his use of the word, allegedly characterizing it as Spanish slang. “He didn’t turn around and deny it when I publicly confronted him,” Buentello said. Colorado state Sen. Nick Hinrichsen (D), Buentello’s spouse, also claimed that Griego seemed to be trying to justify his use of the word. Griego reportedly left the event soon after speaking to Buentello.

According to the Pueblo Chieftain, Martinez Ortega spoke about the incident during the public comment portion of the Board of County Commissioners meeting last Thursday.

Griego did not comment on the allegations but later released a statement through a county spokesperson. “I respect the communities that I serve, including the LGBTQ+ community,” Griego wrote. “As reported I did not utter the word that is being accused of me. This was a private conversation and not a public comment. It’s unfortunate that someone has decided to disclose a private conversation.”

On Thursday, the Southern Colorado Equality Alliance, a local LGBTQ+ advocacy organization, sent a letter to county commissioners demanding an apology from Griego and asking the Board of County Commissioners to censure him. The Southern Colorado Labor Council and the executive board of the Pueblo County Democratic Party co-signed the letter.

The letter states that the word allegedly used by Griegio “has a long and violent history as a Spanish pejorative slur against the LGBTQ+ community.”

“Since the word is often connected with anti-LGBTQ+ violence and hate crimes, when heard on the street it is usually safer to shoulder it and carry on, but when the word is used by an elected office-holder in our community, there must be consequences,” the letter continues. “Pueblo deserves better from its elected leaders.”

Griego was already censured by the local Democratic party in 2022 for endorsing Republican candidate Zach Swearingen in a race for an open commissioner seat. Griego was removed from his position on the Pueblo County Democrats’ central committee. Swearingen, who won in race last year, did not comment on Martinez Ortega’s allegations at last Thursday’s meeting.

Buentello told the Pueblo Chieftain that she had submitted a complaint about Griego’s behavior to the Colorado Democratic Party. The complaint could result in a “controversy committee,” and Griego could lose access to voter databases, be banned from Democratic events, and lose his party credentials.

“This is the latest in a very long list of bad behavior and, frankly, bad faith to our Democratic values,” Buentello said. She has also vowed to find another Democrat to primary Griego, who is up for re-election in 2024.

“It is my goal that we find a Democrat who believes in our values, who will put words into action, and fight for our community, every single day, every single time, even when the cameras are off,” Buentello said. “I don’t know who that person is, but we’ll find him or her.”

Actual Story on LGBTQ Nation
Author: John Russell

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