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CO Civil Unions Defeated In House Committee

Jim Burroway

April 1st, 2011

The crazies came out again in Colorado last night to defeat the Senate Bill 172, which would have provided Civil Unions and other protections for LGBT Coloradans. The bill died in the committee on a 6-5 strict party-line vote. All Republicans voted no, including Rep. Brian DelGrosso (R-Loveland) whose uncle is gay. “It was tough,” said DelGrosso. As tough as it is for his uncle?

Rep. B.J. Nikkel (also R-Loveland), after voting no herself, thanked members of the committee and the bill’s sponsor for “a very thoughtful, civil dialogue about the issue of civil unions.” That “civil dialogue” not only included the “anus lady,” but last night featured the testimony of Paul Cameron.

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To give you some perspective about where Cameron gets these crazy ideas, as recently as five years ago, the head of the Eastern Psychological Association publicly denounced Cameron for fraudulently passing off a paper he wrote as having been presented before the assembled association at a meeting in Philadelphia. Cameron has been removed from the rolls of the American Psychological Association for ethical violations in his fraudulent “research”, and his he has also been denounced by the Nebraska Psychological Association, the American Sociological Association (twice), and the Canadian Psychological Association, all for consistently misinterpreting and misrepresenting research on sexuality, sexual orientation, and the gay community.

You would think that were bad enough, but it gets worse. In a March 1999 edition of his newsletter, Cameron wrote glowingly of how the Nazis “handled” homosexuality. Specifically singling out the policies of Rudolf Höss, the mastermind behind Auschwitz. This echoes what Cameron said in 1985 at a CPAC conference, in which he proclaimed, “Unless we get medically lucky, in three or four years, one of the options discussed will be the extermination of homosexuals.” Cameron’s manifesto calls for the recriminalization of homosexuality and the denial of private domestic partner benefits to anyone who is HIV-positive. He would ban LGBT people from teaching or working at schools or day care centers, and mandate that all course material present homosexuality as “a public health hazard.”

To the shame of Coloradans everywhere, arguments like Cameron’s carried the day.

Update: ThinkProgress has more audio.

Comments

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TampaZeke
April 1st, 2011 | LINK

Why are none of the Democrats educated about his background so that they can humiliate him on the record? They have every right to cross examine him and to disclose his background in order to show that he lacks credibility. Instead, the man rants on and on, unchallenged, and ends up leaving people with grossly false beliefs because they don’t realize that he has been thrown out of every professional organization or his support of the Nazi “solution” to homosexuality.

I’m as offended and angry at the Democrats who let this man go unchallenged as I am at Cameron himself. Cameron is a lost cause so deep in his own delusion that I can no longer give a shit about him. Those people who claim to be our friends and supporters yet let him go unchallenged on the other hand still make my blood boil.

As the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. so wisely said, “In the end it won’t be the hateful words and hurtful actions of our enemies that we remember, but the silence of our friends.”

Panthera
April 1st, 2011 | LINK

TampaZeke,
Well said!

When we are in the ‘States, we are between Nebraska, Wyoming and Colorado.

Decisions like yesterday’s make it very hard for me to toe the boxturtlebulletin line on being nice to Christians.

John
April 1st, 2011 | LINK

If I were DelGrosso’s uncle I do believe I’d join the campaign of his competitor in the primary and/or general election next time around. I normally would be very reluctant to hold a family squabble in public but this man brought it out into the open himself with a quasi “but my best friends/family members are gay” to try and take some of the sting out of his vote. I have family members with many different political views, including those some might label as being anti-gay, none of which interferes with our relationship. Yet what this clown did not only by bringing up his “gay uncle” but also in endorsing the extremely despicable BS of Paul Cameron, that goes beyond even what I could overlook for the sake of family bonds.

Panthera
April 1st, 2011 | LINK

One of our major problems is that we have no coordination, no means of working together.

For heaven’s sake – NEBRASKA rejects this man’s insane gibberish.

How many more battles must we lose before we begin to work together?

TampaZeke
April 1st, 2011 | LINK

While I’m on my soapbox I’d like to address another pink elephant in the room.

If HRC can’t even educate DEMOCRATS about Cameron, his lack of credentials, his being thrown out of psychological associations, his fondness for the Nazi “solution” to homosexuality, and the NUMEROUS scientists who have publicly chastised him for misinterpreting and misusing their research, then they need to disband immediately because they are useless. And if they are educating them and the Democrats know these details yet sit silent then HRC should STILL disband for their silence in confronting them and their complete lack of sway in the political realm.

Panthera
April 1st, 2011 | LINK

Tampazeke,
I second the motion. We don’t work together, we don’t coordinate and the HRC is worse than useless, they are nothing but politically correct, double-plus good Uncle Thomasinas telling us we should be thankful to the Democratic party for not beating us and kicking us quite as much as the Republicans.
I will never give them another cent or second of my time.
Obamabots and spittle-lickers and not in a good way.

a.mcewen
April 1st, 2011 | LINK

I wrote a comment here and I don’t think it took. So I will add a brief one. Don’t blame the Democrats or the lgbt leadership. The lgbt community in general is very lax in calling out religious right distortions. Until we educate each other and pass that information on, as well as make a hell out a lot of noise about it, we will get nowhere.

Panthera
April 1st, 2011 | LINK

I agree that our queer community is too lax.
I disagree that we should not directly and consequentially hold our ‘leaders’ and especially,the Democratic party responsible.
They take our money and promise us that they will fight for us in exchange.
They don’t.

a.mcewen
April 1st, 2011 | LINK

We don’t push them as hard as we should. It all goes to knowing the information and demanding that those who fight for us use it. And a lot of us won’t take the time to educate ourselves. This site has a plethora of information about cameron. And other blogs, as well as mine have talked about him and other religious right lies. But I have yet to see any of our lgbt publication or media cover these things to the extent in which they are needed. Maybe those who fight for us aren’t aware of this stuff because we aren’t making them aware.

Panthera
April 1st, 2011 | LINK

Or, maybe, they are aware but simply don’t consider us worth the political investment.

There is, to my mind, no doubt that the sudden interest in this Democratic administration in plucking low-lying fruit to support our rights (pun intended) arose from the new data showing us to be, not the 1-3% of voters but 8-11%.

That, together with the departure of the new mayor of Chicago (poor Chicago) made the difference. They figured out that they really would have done better if about 1/3 of us hadn’t either sat on our hands or voted for the Tea Party and Republicans in 2010.

The solution – easy. Keep the GayATM closed, except to candidates who are willing to fight for us. Hold the feet of those who promised us their support to the fire.

Investigate and make public the wrong doings of those Republicans and Democrats who are our enemies. Setting anagent provocateur on them is fine with me.

Keep fighting the court cases. Fight and fight hard against those in the public schools who attack our gay children. I am a firm advocate of getting involved in the local PTA.

Provide self-defense courses for queer kids. Bullies aren’t detoured by all the touchy-feely zero-tolerance policies – they punish our queer kids more than the bullies and they know it.
Let a bully attack a properly trained queer kid and get a well-matched physical response back…he’ll think twice before doing it again.

Why aren’t we out demonstrating? Why don’t we make fuller use of the pathetic few laws which do support us? Sue those Christians who hate us into submission. Infiltrate their organizations. Why on earth don’t we have somebody at NOM? Why aren’t we more aggressively provoking Mormon rent-a-storm troopers to overstep their legal authority?

Bernie
April 1st, 2011 | LINK

Absolutely disgusting!

Sean Santos
April 1st, 2011 | LINK

“Another Republican who voted “no,” Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, of Sterling, told Ferrandino afterward, “You’ll make a great dad.” ”

This is the part that’s unbelievable to me. It’s totally oblivious. You can’t shit on someone’s head, then compliment them and say you’re friendly (or not hateful, or whatever). It’s the most ignorant, privileged form of gay-friendism.

I noticed that Sonnenberg had trouble voting no. What I don’t understand is why he did. Is it all political, all about re-election, or keeping Republican friends? I don’t want to be that cynical, but I think that I have to. I understand someone who just doesn’t like gay people voting against this bill (and who knows, maybe that’s who Sonnenberg is deep down, and he was being vilely insincere in his comment). But someone who actually wants to be nice to us, and voting against it? It’s just hopelessly bizarre. It seems insane. I can’t understand it on any level.

EZam
April 2nd, 2011 | LINK

Marriage Equality in Maryland dead, Prop 8 stay unlifted, Indiana and its marriage ban, and now this sh!t.

No good news for gay Americans since the Obama administration changed its position on DOMA.

John
April 2nd, 2011 | LINK

What’s so tough about voting for equal rights? Either you are for equal rights or you aren’t, period. The rest of it is just a ton of BS.

Stefan
April 2nd, 2011 | LINK

“Marriage Equality in Maryland dead”

Far from it. The bill is very much still alive and only needs a vote in the House next year.

“Prop 8 stay unlifted”

An action which was never likely anyway, and the courts are a seperate entity.

“Indiana and its marriage ban”

Which still needs to pass in the next session to reach the voters.

As far as everyone bashing the Dems on this, remember that in the Colorado Senate every Democratic Senator not only voted yes but co-sponsored the legislation, and all 5 House Dems on the House Judiciary Committee were the same.

Marriage equality will pass in Rhode Island this year and likely New York as well, and Deleware will also pass civil unions as well.

Timothy Kincaid
April 4th, 2011 | LINK

There is, to my mind, no doubt that the sudden interest in this Democratic administration in plucking low-lying fruit to support our rights (pun intended) arose from the new data showing us to be, not the 1-3% of voters but 8-11%.

What data?

To date, the best data I have found supports about 4% of the population (and voters) identifies as gay or bisexual.

Timothy Kincaid
April 4th, 2011 | LINK

I noticed that Sonnenberg had trouble voting no. What I don’t understand is why he did. Is it all political, all about re-election, or keeping Republican friends? I don’t want to be that cynical, but I think that I have to. I understand someone who just doesn’t like gay people voting against this bill (and who knows, maybe that’s who Sonnenberg is deep down, and he was being vilely insincere in his comment). But someone who actually wants to be nice to us, and voting against it? It’s just hopelessly bizarre. It seems insane. I can’t understand it on any level.

We just did not sell our position convincingly enough.

For many people – Republicans especially but also Democrats – saying “no” is the default position to questions of change. It’s not that they hate gay people or that they wish us harm, it’s just that we haven’t yet given them cause to go against the “no” instinct. (Remember that in New Hampshire when the vote to reverse marriage was taken, a number of votes which had been “no” to marriage were now “no” to reversing it)

And it isn’t enough to show that civil unions will do no harm. “Will cause no harm” still results in “no”. And “will help a few people” isn’t enough either. It’s just too big of change – conceptually – and no is the safe position.
As long as status quo only impacts gay people, then there isn’t enough reason to change.

We have to convince them that society at large is harmed when there is no recognition of same sex couples. We need to make this less about the lovely lesbian couple – though their story is important – and more about what it says about us as a people.

I am becoming increasingly convinced that we should do as they did in the Delaware civil unions debate and trot in the gay-supporting pastors to show that this truly is a moral issue (and, yes, discrimination IS a moral issue) and that we as a people and community are hurt by anti-gay discrimination.

Ben in Oakland
April 4th, 2011 | LINK

“I am becoming increasingly convinced that we should do as they did in the Delaware civil unions debate and trot in the gay-supporting pastors to show that this truly is a moral issue (and, yes, discrimination IS a moral issue) and that we as a people and community are hurt by anti-gay discrimination”

I just sent an email to EQCA in repsonse to their survey on a new ballot measure to overturn Prop. 8.

I told them that if they were going ot run the same closet-and-shame based campaign that they have always run, please count me out. If they are oging to run the same campaign avoiding the topics of religion, prejudice, and children, double count me out.

Christine Bakke
April 4th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy, you wrote:

“We just did not sell our position convincingly enough.[snip]

And it isn’t enough to show that civil unions will do no harm. “Will cause no harm” still results in “no”. And “will help a few people” isn’t enough either. It’s just too big of change – conceptually – and no is the safe position.

As long as status quo only impacts gay people, then there isn’t enough reason to change.

We have to convince them that society at large is harmed when there is no recognition of same sex couples. We need to make this less about the lovely lesbian couple – though their story is important – and more about what it says about us as a people.”

With all due respect, Timothy, were you there? Did you stream all eight hours of audio? What exactly are you basing your remarks on?

I was there for all 8+ excruciating hours (and let me tell you, those damn seats are worse than sitting in bleachers at a basketball game). I listened to well over 4 hours of testimony from proponents of the civil unions bill.

We heard testimony from pastors and representatives of various denominations explaining how granting civil unions would improve the lives of people across the state (and these were not all LGBT people).

We heard testimony from lawyers about how this would positively impact children, as well as both straight and gay couples, when it comes to end-of-life planning.

We heard testimony from a court mediator who explained how children of gay parents who split up often don’t get child support, or fair visitation because there are no dissolution requirements for same sex couples currently.

We heard testimony that this bill would actually reduce state spending for services since couples in a civil union would have to count both incomes when one of them applies for state services. They would also be forced to pay child support as well if the relationship went south, easing more burden on the state.

We heard from HR directors about getting quality talent and the ability to keep them in the state by offering domestic partner benefits.

We heard from those who work with teens at risk, who pointed out that without comprehensive civil unions, are things really going to “get better” for teens who feel like they don’t matter and who they are isn’t important enough for the state to recognize their future relationships?

We heard from community members who have been denied hospital visitation, medications for a spouse, etc even when they had their proper papers with them.

We heard from republicans who argued that passing a civil unions bill actually promotes smaller government and other republican ideals.

We heard from the representative who sponsored the bill in the House – Mark Farrandino, about he and his partner possibly adopting a child in the near future. He reminded his co-workers that they do the same job, were elected by the same people and yet they don’t have the same rights.

We also heard testimony from people who had horror stories to tell – including the story of my wife, who has no contact with a child she had raised for 8 years with her former partner, all because there were no civil unions (therefore no dissolution procedures) in place. She asked those listening to explain to her now 15 year old child (to whom she had been the primary parent until he was 12) why their beliefs, opinions and perhaps fears, are more important than his well-being.

The arguments came from all walks of life. Some were emotional, some were matter-of-fact. All were absolutely compelling and together painted a picture of what a just Colorado could look like; one where all its citizens were valued.

About half of the representatives who voted No on sending the bill to the House were obviously disengaged during the entire proceedings. Some of them were not even in the room for large chunks of time. They had to have the Sergeant at Arms go find and round them all up so they could even start to vote. They did not look at witnesses for the majority of the time, nor did they ask any questions, like some of the other lawmakers did.

Some of the Representatives (mostly the Democrats) were engaged in the process. They asked questions that allowed proponent witnesses to delve deeper into the benefits of the Bill. They asked questions of the opponents that let them dig an even deeper hole for themselves in some occasions (especially the guy who talked about killing homosexuals as a mandate from God in Exodus).

Even after the no vote, and with my disgust at the republicans who clearly were voting based on party lines, I was so proud of our community in Colorado. I was proud to be LGBT and I was honored to be counted among the people who came and made our presence felt and our voices heard. I was sad to be standing in the Capitol after the vote – to feel that I was not equal in the eyes of the law – but I was happy to be in such good company.

Timothy Kincaid
April 5th, 2011 | LINK

Christine,

No I was not there. And, perhaps unfairly, I spoke in general terms about a specific situation.

But I do think that you prove my point. You listed a large number of items about which you heard testimony. And they were about the difficulties encountered by

* people across the state (and these were not all LGBT people).

* children, as well as both straight and gay couples

* children of gay parents

* the income of couples in a civil union

* gay teens who feel like they don’t matter

* community members who have been denied hospital visitation

* the gay man who sponsored the bill

* people who had horror stories to tell

You see these as people “from all walks of life”. But what you fail to see is that, to legislators, they are all “people who want legislation because they would personally benefit from it.”

And, like it or not Christine, that isn’t good enough. Yes it is heart-wrenching. Yes it is absolutely compelling. Yet it did not absolutely compel them to vote for the legislation.

As the saying goes, the proof is in the pudding.

We, as a community, need to decide whether we want to be absolutely compelling and tell a good story and get our grievances heard and “let them know” and come together as one and feel our voice and speak truth to power, or if we want to get legislators to enact the laws we need. Because those are not the same goals or achieved by the same processes.

Yes it is emotionally fulfilling to be unified and have pride and be counted and heard. But the hard truth, the one our community doesn’t like to face, is that this is too serious to let emotional satisfaction be our priority.

The representatives who voted no weren’t there for the testimony because we didn’t speak to them. They don’t care about the tale of woe that the witness brought – everyone has a tale of woe.

Republicans, as a whole, just don’t base public policy on a tale of woe. It’s not going to reach them. Ever.

The three that you referenced that have some potential were:

* the state spending discussion

* the HR director talking about job retention

* republicans arguing for smaller government

But even the second last seems a bit misplaced when seeking to pass a new government status.

Here is what is missing from your list:

* The Methodist angrily denouncing policies that are based on Catholic teaching as being anti-Methodist bigotry.

Incidentally, it is absolutely true that much of the motivation behind anti-gay laws is to advance one set of religious teaching AND to rub it in the face of other religious groups. As much as anti-gay laws is “yeah my church” is is ALSO “and screw yours.”

As much as we are tempted to think so, this isn’t religion v. secularism. It’s my religion v. yours. We need to start saying this. And in Delaware, according to news coverage, nearly the whole debate was in terms of faith. On both sides.

* The stodgy fairly-conservative preacher saying the society should demand that gay people become responsible adults and take care of each other and not stay carefree bachelors and wild ladies and that it is the job of the legislature to encourage them to do so.

* The somewhat smug social scientist noting that civil unions force someone to be responsible for the other one and gets them off the back of the state – should they be so stupid as to make such an agreement.

The problem – which I think, with your background, you really do know – is that we try to present liberal arguments to conservative legislators and then wonder why we aren’t effective. If we want them to sit there and listen, then we have to talk to them in the language they understand.

We must learn to talk in terms of individual responsibility, financial independence and contribution, morality, and religious freedom. And the funny thing is that those are the areas in which we hold all the cards.

Timothy Kincaid
April 5th, 2011 | LINK

Rereading the above… it is a pretty harsh assessment. So let me amend to say that I’m doing the armchair quarterback thing. I wasn’t there, I didn’t put in the time, so I haven’t exactly earned the right to be harsh towards those who have.

All of which is to say that I think that another approach should have been crafted, but I am nonetheless appreciative of those who did seek to advance my rights in Colorado.

Christine Bakke
April 5th, 2011 | LINK

Actually, Timothy, you’re right on one count for sure. It comes off as harsh, but not only that, it comes off as a bit condescending from someone who wasn’t there and wasn’t involved. The local group that has been pushing the civil unions bill here is called One Colorado, and I’m sure they’d love your advice and any time you could take to further the cause (seriously).

There were arguments expressed much like what you wrote about, although not the one about one religion claiming bigotry from another. Although I understand your point – especially because I understand the nuances of different denominations and beliefs – I have some serious doubts that this would accomplish anything in a world where all that many people know of the major religions is that each has a prohibition against homosexuality in its holy book. I fail to see how people on the periphery would see this as a compelling argument.

At any rate, the things you bring up were mentioned although perhaps not by the characters you had drawn up as ideal. But these arguments were not compelling to the republicans either, and I fail to see how even the most clever of arguments would have persuaded them given their backgrounds (former pastor, for instance), affiliations (tea party) and constituents (extremely conservative and powerful – three of the six were from the backyard of Focus on the Family). Like I said before, most were not paying attention. Some of them had a several minute pow-wow before voting – assuming it was to check in to see that all the ducks were in a row and there weren’t going to be any defections. As the saying goes….”you can lead a horse to water…”

You have also set up an either/or argument – that there is only one right way of doing something – and that both methods cannot be used together to get a desired result. I don’t agree with that.

I think there were a variety of things that contributed to the civil rights gains in the 60s. In my opinion, as a country, we needed Malcolm X and we needed Martin Luther King, Jr. We needed people to argue dispassionately about the law and we needed people to refuse to sit in the back of the bus. We needed white allies and we needed to see the horrors of what was happening to blacks in our society firsthand (or at least through the TV).

It was not just one tactic that worked. It was a groundswell of all kinds of things working together.

You might not think that our community coming together, working hard and feeling good about itself may accomplish anything (especially when it comes to being granted equal rights), but I say that it does and it will. Empowered people demand their rights. Empowered people exist as if they have their rights and they are just waiting for others to get onboard. Empowered people start showing up for events, start making phone calls, start being out and making a difference around them. You are certainly free to discount it, but I think that it’s important.

Mihangel apYrs
April 5th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy
while you try to address the point about the absence of legislators through the testimony, returning only to vote according to prejudice or political expediency, your suggestions about how to keep them in chamber are not convincing.

These people don’t CARE what the arguments are, no matter how compelling even for a social and fiscal convservative, they vote on the prejudice of their party. Hell, a man who KNEW the impact and the arguements and reasons, voted to shaft his uncle rather than break that goosestep with his fellow bigots.

You can’t convince those whose minds and ears are closed to rational argument let alone make an appeal based on constitutionality. You have to break them in the polls, replacing them with people who can at least think for themselves rather than just vote according to party prejudice.

Timothy Kincaid
April 6th, 2011 | LINK

Christine,

After decades of activism, my experience tells me that our community takes one of two approaches. Either we strategize, get the right people using the right arguments to appeal to exactly whom we need to appeal to and adopt language that is effective, or we empower people and blame Republicans.

You are right that I wasn’t there. So I’ll let your words inform us as to which method was utilized.

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