Friday, January 25, 2013

GOP rallies against civil unions bill

The west side of the Capitol was a protest site Friday, with opponents of SB 11 - the proposed civil unions legislation - rallying against the measure.

Speakers included former House speaker Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, and former House majority leader Amy Stephens, R-Monument.

Stephens complimented the bill's lead sponsor, Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, but nevertheless urged its rejection, while McNulty argued that repeating the choice made last year to prevent it from becoming law would reflect "courage."

Former Sen. Ed Jones, R-Colorado Springs, used his opportunity at the microphone to engage in some rather distasteful criticism of House speaker Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver. Jones said Ferrandino had a "wife" named "Eric," neither of which is an accurate statement.

He also misleadingly argued that people who are gay can choose not to be and insisted that this rendered null arguments for improved civil rights protection.

“I never saw a water fountain that said 'gays only,'” Jones said.

While the tools used to ostracize gay men and women in the Jim Crow south, and elsewhere in the nation, may have been different from the methods of enforcing segregation of the races, the available scientific research shows that, in fact, homosexuality is possibly an immutable characteristic of an individual.

According to a website maintained by Catholic News Agency, a high-ranking representative of the Roman Catholic Church's Denver archdiocese complained that the bill would infringe on Catholics' religious freedom by interfering in the practices of Catholic adoption agencies.

"We have been involved in the state of Colorado for over 80 years in helping to take care of the children of our community and make sure they are placed in adoption and foster care in good, healthy, wholesome settings, for the good of our society,” writer Kevin J. Jones quoted Monsignor Thomas Fryar, the Denver archdiocese's second-highest ranking official, as saying to the crowd.

The version of the proposed legislation considered in 2012, and killed by the Republican-ruled House of Representatives in office at the time, would have exempted Catholic adoption agencies from its reach. The state's Catholic dioceses nevertheless opposed the bill.

The Catholic hierarchy, as well as leaders of a variety of other socially conservative faith traditions, oppose recognition of civil unions because they view the step as providing a social sanction to same-sex relationships and as a threat to traditional marriage.

Colorado voters forbade any changes to the traditional view of marriage as involving only men and women when they approved Amendment 43 to the state constitution in 2006. A statute cannot override or contradict a constitutional provision.

Denver Post reporter Lynn Bartels wrote Friday that Jones was among several speakers who urged Gov. John Hickenlooper to veto the measure if it reaches his desk.

That result is not likely. Hickenlooper has said he will sign the bill.

Friday's rally was organized by the Denver Catholic archiocese.