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Religious Tolerance logo

Same sex civil unions & same-sex marriages (SSM) in Colorado

Part 3: 2012: The Colorado House's Finance
& Appropriations Committee pass
Civil Union Bill. Bill killed in House ... twice.
Republicans lose majority in House.

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This topic is continued from the previous essay

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2012-MAY-04: The House Finance Committee passes civil union bill 12-02:

During the afternoon of 2012-MAY-04, the Colorado House Finance Committee followed the same sequence: they voted to pass the Civil Unions Act with the usual narrow 7 to 6 vote. 8  Again, one lone Republican -- Rep. Don Beezley (R) -- joined by all six Democrats on the committee -- voted in favor of the bill to outvote the six other Republicans who opposed it. He also is not planning to run for re-election and thus was able to follow his conscience. In defending his vote against his party's position, he said:

"I think it's been an evolutionary process of respecting and learning to appreciate the fact that, regardless of whether an individual understands the nature of the relationships and the situation, that it really comes down to basic equity and fairness for a human being." 1

He also said:

"If the worst thing that happens in our society, is we have more people committed to long term, meaningful, loving relationships — I think that’s a good thing." 3

Referring to the response on the bill from his constituents, he said:

"I probably heard 10-to-1 in favor." 3

Unfortunately, the bill was stalled. Rep. Brian DelGrosso (R), chairperson of the Finance Committee, must sign the bill in order to have it released to the Appropriations Committee. As of the end of business on MAY-04, it was still on his desk awaiting his signature.

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2012-MAY-04: CitizenLink asks voters to write politicians:

In an urgent message from its Action Center, CitizenLink -- a Focus on the Family affiliate -- urges Colorado readers to write their representatives to vote against SB 2. 4

  • They explain that the bill would "redefine marriage in Colorado through civil unions." Actually this is not true. If the bill is passed, marriage will still be restricted the union of one woman and one man. Civil Unions would merely extend the state's protections, benefits, and obligations to loving, committed same-sex couples and their children. Same-sex couples would still be unable to obtain a marriage license in Colorado. Same-sex couples who were married in other states or countries would still not be regarded as being married in Colorado.

  • They suggest that if SB2 is passed that a lawsuit would certainly be initiated to seek same-sex marriage in the state. This is unlikely. Such a lawsuit would undoubtedly fail in Colorado courts because the 2006 amendment to the state constitution prohibits same-sex marriage; the courts cannot overrule that amendment. In fact, the reason for the amendment was to put creation of same-sex marriages beyond the authority of the courts and legislature.

  • The article states that civil unions are not needed because same-sex couples already benefit from rights given to them by the legislature. However, there are many rights and protections that they and their children are still denied. The civil unions bill would correct this injustice.

CitizenLink concludes:

"If you care about preserving one-man, one-woman marriage, please contact your members of the House of Representatives today!" 4

However, restricting marriage to a union of one woman and one man has already been achieved by an amendment placed in the state Constitution during 2006. The civil unions bill cannot override that amendment, nor can any bill passed by the legislature. "Traditional" marriages are safe and don't need to be protected or preserved further. Except for the state of Israel, opposite-sex couples can freely marry in any country of the world. We have never seen any political agitation or legislation directed at restricting or preventing that form of marriage, except for the necessary restrictions on eligibility due to age and genetic closeness.

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2012-MAY-08: The House Appropriations Committee passes civil union bill:

The bill was scheduled to proceed to the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday, MAY-08 who normally start at 7:30 AM. However, Mark Ferrandino is trying to have the bill considered on Monday afternoon, MAY-07. He said:

"My hope is that we don’t see games being played by leadership to stall this. This deserves a full up-or-down vote on second reading and third reading on Wednesday, from the full House. It is evident that we have two Republicans, all the Democrats, in the House of Representatives that will support this. ... This bill should live on its merits and not be killed by games played by leadership." 3

Governor John Hickenlooper (D) has promised to sign the bill into law. However, in order for that to happen, this committee would have to approve it in time on Monday so that it could proceed to a full floor vote by the House later on the same day or Tuesday. A final vote, Third Reading, must be held before Midnight on a separate day, Wednesday. Some commentators expect the Republican representatives to delay the bill so that it dies when the Legislature ends its session at the end of Wednesday, MAY-09.

The Republicans held a one person majority in the Appropriation Committee (7 Republicans to 6 Democrats). According to the Denver Post, Rep. Cheri Gerou, (R) who is vice chair of the Appropriations Committee, planned to vote in favor of the bill. The remaining committee members vote according to party lines, resulting in another 7 to 6 vote in favor of the bill -- the third committee of the House to pass it. 1

Republicans also hold a one-person majority in the House (33 Republicans to 32 Democrats). However, with so many Republicans having previously voted for the bill in various committees, its passage in the House was considered to be a certainty -- but only if the Republican leadership would allow such a vote. 2

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2012-MAY-08: Civil unions bill killed:

Conservative lawmakers had expected that the bill would die for the second year in a row in the GOP-controlled Judiciary Committee earlier in May. However, a Republican representative voted with Democrats to pass the bill out of committee. Under normal circumstances, a vote would be taken in the full House. Since at least five Republicans have publicly said that they would support the bill, it would have passed if voted upon.

The Republican leaders panicked. The bill would have given all loving, committed couples in Colorado, and their children, the option of being married or entering into a civil union and receiving the full state protections of marriage. They felt that they had to stop this bill in its tracks at all cost.

The Denver Post reported that conservatives lobbied Republican House Speaker:

"... McNulty and House Majority Leader Amy Stephens to use every procedure to kill Senate Bill 2."

That's exactly what happened, but in the process of making sure civil unions died on the calendar, a slew of other bills became casualties too.

Among the bills ensnared in the tug-of-war in the House: $20 million worth of water projects statewide and a bill that sets a standard for driving while stoned. ..."

The civil unions bill had to be debated Tuesday [MAY-08] in order to qualify for a vote today [MAR-09] on the final day of the session. 5

Jace Woodrum, deputy director for One Colorado, the state's largest gay-rights group, said:

"No matter what happens today or tomorrow, the unspoken truth in this whole debate is we will win. Whether it is today or tomorrow or next year or the next, we will win. Gay and lesbian couples in this state will have full protection under the law. We all know it, and everybody in this building knows it." 5

Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) was not impressed. The Denver Post reported that he sent lawmakers a letter with a simple message: Coloradans deserve better than they got last week. The letter said, in part:

"Transparency, accountability and the virtues of good government are compromised when the legislative clock is used to avoid consideration of important legislation. We owe it to the people we serve to do better." 6

Senator Hickenlooper called a special session of the Legislature to resolve the issues.

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2012-MAY-14: Civil unions bill dies a second death:

A special session of the Colorado Legislation began on the following Monday, to consider the civil unions bill and several other bills that had died during the previous week's political maneuvers.

During the regular session of the Legislature, the bill had been passed by the Senate and by three House Committees with bipartisan support. This time it was reviewed by the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee. Apparently this committee was specifically chosen as a "kill committee" for the simple reason that it had enough secure Republican votes to kill the bill. As expected, the committee rejected the bill by a vote of 5 to 4 along strict party lines. 7

As a result, the bill never made it to the House where there were a sufficient number of Republicans in favor of the bill to assure its passage. Governor Hickenlooper (D) was anxious to sign the bill into law. However, it never reached his desk.

Alex Hornaday is the treasurer of the Denver County Republicans and also the vice president of the Log Cabin Republicans -- a gay pro-equality group within the GOP. Referring to the upcoming 2012-NOV elections, he said:

"I'm afraid what happened last week has already doomed our razor-thin majority in the House." 7

Governor Hickenlooper (D) was saddened that the bill never received a full house vote. He issued a statement saying:

"That's what Coloradans deserved and also what would have kept faith with our constitutional obligation to support equal rights." 8

One of the dozens of bills that died due to political maneuvering to prevent the House to vote on Senate bill 12-2 -- the civil unions bill -- would have asked voters in a referendum on Election Day in 2012-NOV to repeal obsolete language in the Colorado Constitution. One of the items to be deleted from the Constitution would have been an amendment that barred municipalities from passing laws that protected persons from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation. The U.S. Supreme Court had declared that amendment unconstitutional. 9

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Results of 2012-NOV elections:

The Democrats lost one seat in the Senate and the Republicans gained one seat. The Democratic Party still controls the 35 seat Senate, with a reduced margin of 3 seats: 19 Democrats to 16 Republican Senators. Before the election, the Democratic Party had a margin of 5 seats. 10

The Democrats picked up 5 seats in the House and the Republicans lost 5 seats. The Democratic Party now controls the 65 seat House, with a margin of 9 seats: 37 Democrats to 28 Republican Senators. Before the election, the Republican Party had a margin of 1 seat. 11

John Wright Hickenlooper (D) starts the second part of his term as Governor. He was elected to the office with 51% of the votes in 2010. The next gubernatorial election will be in 2014-NOV. 12

With Democrats in control of the Governor's office, the Senate and House, I will go out on a limb and predict success for a resurrected civil unions bill in 2013.

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This topic continues in the next essay

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Ivan Moreno, "Colo Civil Unions Bill Gets OK by Another Panel," Associated Press, 2012-MAY-05, at:
  2. Chet Hardin, "UPDATE: Civil unions bill to live another day," Indy Blog, 2012-MAY-05, at:
  3. Nic Garcia, "Colorado civil union bill a hop, skip and jump away from becoming law -- if the clock doesn't run out first," OutFront Colorado, 2012-MAY-07, at:
  4. "Special alert: Civil Union legislation headed to House of Representatives.Act now to protect marriage!," Citizen Link, undated, at:
  5. Lynn Bartels, "Civil unions bill killed along with 30 other bills in late-night game of political chicken," Denver Post, 2012-MAY-08, at:
  6. Tim Hoover, "Gov. Hickenlooper to legislators: Coloradans deserve better," Denver Post, 2012-MAY-13, at:
  7. Tim Hoover & John Ingold, "Colorado civil unions bill dies in 'kill committee'," Denver Post, 2012-MAY-14, at:
  8. Tim Hoover & John Ingold, "Colorado civil unions bill killed before reaching House floor, Denver Post, 2012-MAY-15, at:
  9. Tim Hoover, "Colorado legislature ends special session; feuds far from done," Denver Post, 2012-MAY-17, at:
  10. "Colorado State Senate Election Results," Ballotpedia, 2012-NOV-11, at:
  11. "Colorado State HouseElection Results," Ballotpedia, 2012-NOV-11, at:
  12. "Colorado 2012 Election Center," Washington Times, 2012-NOV, at:

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Copyright 2012 & 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
First posted: 2012-MAY-05
Latest update: 2013-FEB-03
Author: B.A. Robinson

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