DENVER– Opposition to a gay-rights civil union bill defeated here last month was directed in large part by Colorado Springs-based evangelical empire Focus on the Family and the Colorado Catholic Conference. The Christian-right campaign, however, also reenergized a leading anti-gay rights activist organization of the 1990s, influential rough-and-tumble group Colorado for Family Values.
A unanimous federal appeals court ruling issued in Boston today found the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional in that it discriminates against same-sex couples. The ruling is a victory for the Obama administration and supporters of both gay rights and states’ rights and a blow for the national anti-gay marriage movement and for Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, who filed a controversial and critics say confused amicus brief in the case last year in support of the embattled federal law.
Colorado legislative debate this year on education, gay rights and women’s health policies reflected larger well-worn national political back-and-forths, where showy speeches on immigration “illegals,” “traditional marriage” and religious freedom often sidetrack efforts to serve the public good.
For years, credible surveys conducted among Colorado voters have found opinion in the state swinging strongly in favor of legal relationship recognition for gay couples. Results released Friday by North Carolina-based Public Policy Polling show the strongest support yet. Coloradans, according to a poll conducted last week (pdf), support a civil unions bill presently being considered by the state legislature by a whopping 30-point spread.
Colorado Springs-based Christian-right group Focus on the Family last week submitted to a state Senate committee survey results suggesting that a majority of Coloradans do not support same-sex civil unions. The results of the survey, which was conducted by political marketing firm Advantage Inc, run counter to mounting public-opinion data reported by well-known firms such as Public Policy Polling, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and American Viewpoint.
DENVER– At a state Senate committee hearing on a same-sex civil unions bill held here Wednesday, a series of witnesses battered Republican lawmakers opposed to the bill, suggesting they were confused in their ideology, nonstrategic in their thinking and enslaved to an outdated anti-gay “hateful bigoted mantra.” The harsh criticism came not from Democrats and their allies but from Republicans testifying in favor of the bill on the basis of conservative principles and out of partisan interest in the future success of the party.
Denver Senator Pat Steadman’s re-introduced same-sex civil unions bill is being heard this afternoon in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Although the bill will be passed easily by the committee’s Democratic majority, the hearing will be the staging ground for this year’s arguments for and against it, drawing the attention of political analysts, members of the public and lawmakers in both chambers of the legislature looking to gauge the direction and intensity of political winds in an especially charged election year.
Colorado U.S. Senator Mark Udall at a gay-rights event this weekend in Denver said he supports marriage equality for all Americans. Udall joins a growing list of lawmakers who have gone on record in support of ending the era where the federal Defense of Marriage Act and where constitutional bans like Colorado’s Amendment 43 blocked LGBT couples from the legal protections and advantages provided by the state through marriage. Udall is the 18th sitting U.S. Senator to state publicly that he supports efforts to make gay marriage legal.
Survey results released by Public Policy Polling this week underline broad support in Colorado for some form of legislation that would grant gay couples equal partnership rights. Although Republican members of the House Judicial Committee last year quashed a popular civil unions bill, PPP found that even among Colorado Republican voters, support for civil unions-style legislation is now nearing 60 percent.
Reporting the story of recently defeated Colorado civil unions bill SB 172, National Catholic Register reporter Steve Weatherbe Monday called a poll showing popular support for civil unions in the state “specious.” But Weatherbe got the facts wrong on pro-civil unions polling in Colorado and he leans instead on an alleged “recent poll” conducted for Christian politics group Colorado Family Action by a company called Advantage Inc, which the Washington Post reportedly describes as a “Republican fundraising and marketing firm.” Colorado Family Action says it shared its polling results with Republican members of the state House Judicial Committee who voted to kill the bill at the end of March.