Same sex civil unions & same-sex marriages (SSM) in Colorado
Part 1: 2012: Public support for SSM and civil unions.
|Date||Support SSM||Oppose SSM||Not sure, no answer|
There appears to be the usual generational divide as has been observed throughout the U.S. Voters aged 18 to 29 favor same-sex marriage by 77 to 23%; a margin of over 3 to 1. Political independents support SSM by a ratio of 61 to 32% -- close to 2 to 1. 3
The report by PPP commented:
"That should be a real warning sign to the GOP that continuing to tack right on this issue is going to significantly hurt its ability to appeal both to the next generation of voters and to swing voters who are somewhere between moderate and liberal on social issues.
We already see Colorado shading bluer and bluer at the Presidential level and this is one of the issues where Republicans seem to be stuck behind, while the electorate is moving forward." 4
When voters were asked to select their preferred government provision for loving, committed same-sex couples:
Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling said: "Colorado is another in a growing number of states where polls show voters are rapidly shifting towards supporting legal gay marriage."
To collect the above data, PPP sampled the opinions of 542 Colorado voters between 2012-APR-05 to 07. The margin of error was ±4.2 percentage points. 1
In the same 2012-APR poll, when asked if they supported or opposed the civil union bill that was currently before the Legislatures, Colorado voters are almost 2 to 1 in favor of the bill:
As one would expect, voters are very strongly polarized along party lines:
This puts Republican lawmakers in a delicate positions. If they want to be responsive to the wishes of the people of Colorado, they will vote for the bill. If they want to be responsive only to the members of the Republican Party, they will oppose the bill.
According to the Huffington Post, the civil unions bill:
"... does not allow gay marriage but does grant gay couples rights similar to marriage, including enhanced inheritance and parental rights, and the ability to be involved in partner's medical decisions.
Republicans who oppose the bill said it undermines traditional marriage and that voters expressed their position on the issue when they banned same-sex marriage in 2006."
Republicans thus seem to deny the evidence of a surge in public support for civil unions during recent years as evidenced by multiple polls. It is unclear to us how giving equal rights and protections to one group of people -- loving committed same-sex couples and their children -- will threaten the marriages of opposite-sex couples who are already married. There have been many instances in the past where the U.S. Constitutions guarantees of equal protection and equal access granted groups of Americans equal rights. Examples were: freeing the slaves, allowing women to vote, integrating public schools, ending segregation against African Americans etc. All seem to have benefited the country overall.
Back in 2011, Senator Pat Steadman (D) and House Minority Leader Mark Ferrandino (D) sponsored a civil unions bill which did not proceed.
They sponsored a new bill in 2012, and are searching for a Republican Representative to co-sponsor the bill in the House. So far, they have been unsuccessful.
On 2012-APR-27, the Colorado Senate passed the Civil Unions Act by a vote of 23 to 12 -- the same vote as in 2011. Three Republicans and twenty Democrats voted in favor of the bill. 5
Colorado Family Action (CFA) is the political arm of Focus on the Family; both are located in Colorado Springs, CO. CFA sent out an "Urgent Call to Action" referring to the civil unions bill:
"Under this legislation, rights and benefits afforded by law to married spouses would be extended to homosexual partners through this parallel structure to marriage. .. Every time civil unions has been imposed on states, demands for same-sex marriage have followed." 6
While their statement is literally true, it gives the impression that, if the civil unions bill is passed, loving committed same-sex couples will pick up all the same rights, protections, and obligations given to opposite-sex couples when they marry. That is not true. The Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) law prohibits the federal government from recognizing couples who have either married or entered into civil unions. Thus, even though same-sex couples in civil unions could pick up a few hundred state benefits, they would still lack benefits from 1,138 federal "... laws in which marital status is a factor in determining or receiving benefits, rights, and privileges," according to the federal Government Accountability Office.
CFA is correct when it says that passage of civil unions is followed by "... demands for same-sex marriage." However, those demands are toothless in Colorado because of the discriminatory amendment written into its Constitution in 2006 that prohibits same-sex marriage from being legalized be either the state legislature or state courts.
The Denver Post, which published the above information in an article by Curtis Hubbard is conducting a poll of its readers on the civil unions bill SB 2. As of the morning of 2012-MAR-07, 3991 votes were cast. They asked the question "Do you want to see the civil unions bill pass? 6Results were:
That is a ratio approaching 2 to 1 in favor of the bill. Politicians might want to take notice of these data if they are interested in being re-elected any time soon.
"Marge" posted a comment to Hubbard's article (spelling, grammar and punctuation modified for legibility):
"I'm a bit confused here. I remember Focus [on the Family] pushing the anti-gay marriage amendment in 2006 because it was all about the 'marriage' thing, and not wanting churches to be subject to 'having' to sanctify a relationship. A civil union is a contract between two individuals sharing health, children, homes, property, custody responsibilities, etc, etc, etc. It won't be solemnized in a church -- well except the churches Focus won't set foot in. But those churches have already been celebrating the ties of a couple of adults who choose to declare themselves a couple in front of G-d and family and friends.
Now what is the real problem? It can't really be about fertility in marriage. There are plenty of couples in the world who have no children, and we don't outlaw marriage for those who are naturally or surgically infertile. We don't demand divorces of couples where a woman has crossed the threshold of menopause, or where a man has lost his ability due to age, illness or surgery to make another baby. It can't be about other children who are brought into a civil union or born into one, that is happening today, and the only consequence is the kids don't have equal protection their friends' ...[opposite-sex] married parents have regarding divorce child support, inheritance, etc.
Could it be because one is resentful that someone else might get to share their family insurance with a loved one? Or that children who could be swept into poverty by the death or divorce of one parent are now having some more protection? Are those opposing this thinking [that] their spouse will immediately 'convert' and leave home and hearth for a person of the same sex? What is the real issue here?" 6
Webmaster's response: I suspect that the main reason for opposition to civil unions by CFA and conservative Protestants generally is related to their foundational beliefs about the nature of sexual orientation. Many, perhaps most, believe that homosexuality and bisexuality are chosen and that adults can readily change their sexual orientation, with some effort. If this were true, then any effort to give equal rights to same-sex couples would lead to fewer conversions of lesbians, gays, and bisexuals to heterosexuality.
Meanwhile, essentially all psychiatrists, psychologists, human sexuality researchers, religious liberals, secularists take an opposing view by accepting the belief that sexual orientation is discovered, not chosen, and is fixed in adulthood.
Barry Noreen, columnist for the Gazette in Colorado Springs suggests that:
"Both Republicans and Democrats behaved in cynical fashion. You, readers, can decide which party was more cynical." 7
The Legislative session was scheduled to end on MAY-09. He notes that Rep. Amy Stephens, (R) and Rep. Mark Waller, (R) -- the House majority and assistant majority leaders -- agree that the civil union bill would be passed if only the entire House were given the chance to vote on it. All or essentially all of the Democrats and a few Republicans would vote for the bill.
He blames the Republicans for assigning the bill to be reviewed by an apparently never ending series of committees so that the clock will run out on the bill. They will delay the bill so that it will not arrive in the House for a vote in time.
"Thus the House leadership decided to kill a bill they knew would pass with some support from their own party. A powerful minority beats the majority again — cynical. ... The gay community, which has made civil unions its top legislative priority, mobilized with rallies and social media communications. It helped to activate the Democrats’ base — the civil unions story got big play in Denver Thursday.
Readers, which party was more cynical? The one that used its power to stifle the majority, or the one whose half-hearted support now appears to have been mainly aimed at keeping loyalists active in an election year?
Tough call. A pox on both their houses." 7
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
Copyright 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
First posted: 2012-MAY-05
Latest update: 2012-JUN-03
Author: B.A. Robinson