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Full text of my Colorado House committee testimony on civil unions

Daniel Gonzales

March 31st, 2011

Providing testimony to a Senate committee earlier this month.

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The Colorado House is holding a crucial committee hearing on the civil unions bill today and I will be testifying.  In 2006 Colorado voters both rejected a referendum to enact civil unions and amended the state constitution to ban gay marriage.  These events of 2006 have become a favorite talking-point for those legislators wishing to oppose civil unions here in 2011.  Gay rights are one of the fastest changing opinions among voters and multiple polls in Colorado have shown that voters here have changed their views drastically since 2006.

My name is Daniel Gonzales.

I need to publicly apologize to my community because before I came out of the closet, I voted in favor of my home state’s marriage ban amendment.

But I’m not alone, the issue of equal protections for gays and lesbians is one of the most rapidly shifting opinions among voters in our nation right now.

Yet when this bill was in the Senate your peers kept bringing up Ref i and Amendment 43, as if Coloradans are an exception and haven’t reconsidered the issue since these votes in 2006.

That’s clearly not the case.

Three different polls conducted this year and last have all shown support for civil unions exceeding 72% among Coloradans.

So yes, Colorado voters, including people in your district, have changed their minds on this issue, and I count myself among them.

The citizens of Utah, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma have seen fit to pass amendments banning not just marriage but also civil unions.  Yet the people of this state have not done so.  The people of Colorado have left the door open for us to have civil unions.

Amendment 43 bans marriage.  Civil unions and marriage are not the same thing.  Colorado voters know that. That’s why the two poll at drastically different levels of support.

I ask you to please work within the bounds of our constitution to give our relationships some basic dignity through civil unions.

I ask that you realize and acknowledge that the voters of Colorado and I have changed our thinking on this issue.

My own coming out took three years, it was a gradual process. And in that time my existing beliefs and preconceptions were challenged and I began to think about what sort of life and what sort of family I might one-day have.

I’m not here to try and change your personal religious convictions or get some sort of moral stamp of approval.

But I am saying that the voters of Colorado and I have changed our thinking on this issue and I would ask that you too begin to challenge your preconceived feelings about people you might think are so different than you.

Perhaps some of the tearful testimonies earlier have demonstrated that the hopes, dreams and fears of our families are not that much different than yours.

Today you have an opportunity to improve the lives of families in our state. I urge you to take it.

Comments

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G Carey
March 31st, 2011 | LINK

When will this be voted on?

Daniel Gonzales
March 31st, 2011 | LINK

The committee hearing is still going. The most crucial vote is this evening when the committee votes on it. If the bill reaches the House floor it will pass there.

Ben M
March 31st, 2011 | LINK

Measure failed on a party line vote.

Ben M
March 31st, 2011 | LINK

Final vote:

Sonnenberg (R-65): No
Kagan (D-3): Yes
Nikkel (R-49): No
Lee (D-18): Yes
Levy (D-13): Yes
Barker (R-17): No
Gardner (R-21): No
Duran (D-5): Yes
Ryden (D-36): Yes
DelGrosso (R-51): No
Waller (R-15): No

I guess Sonnenberg told Rep Ferrandino he will be a great dad… after condemning his family to ongoing hardship.

Ryan
March 31st, 2011 | LINK

With 72% of Colorado citizens supporting Civil Unions, gay rights groups should put it up for a popular vote. Counting on Republicans to do the right thing by gays is a losing proposition. This time they can’t even hide behind the “sanctity” of anything. This is pure Republican animus.

Ben M
April 1st, 2011 | LINK

There was an amendment to put the bill to popular vote… it failed (all Republicans voted no).

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