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Stronger and more controversial Colorado civil union bill to be heard Wednesday

Daniel Gonzales

January 21st, 2013

Committee hearings on the civil union bill always pack the chamber with spectators and media. This photo is from last year’s legislative session.

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Civil unions legislation has been re-introduced in Colorado and passage is near certain.  Why you ask?  Because the number of bill sponsors constitues a majority of both the House and Senate.  That’s 20 sponsors in the Senate (out of 35 seats) and 38 sponsors in the House (out of 65 seats).

In a first for the bill Republican Rep Cheri Gerou all of a sudden grew balls this year and decided to sponsor the bill after declining to last year. Even OutFront Colorado published an article titled “How are we so sure civil unions will pass this year?

How did we get to this point?  Here’s some backstory…

In 2011 and 2012 Colorado had a divided legislature.  In 2012 after the bill surprisingly managed to pass intact out of a key Republican controlled committee in a desperate last minute attempt to kill the bill House Speaker Frank McNulty (R-Highlands Ranch) killed 30+ bills on the last night of the session rather than allow the civil union bill to reach the floor.

Democrats swept the November election statewide and retook control of the House along with retaining control of the Senate and Governor’s Residence.  Rep Mark Ferrandino was elected by his peers to be the first openly gay Speaker Of The House.  Also during the fall recess, tragically, Dave Misner, the husband of Senator Pat Steadman, the bill’s author, died of pancreatic cancer.

But there are other different things this year too.

Previous civil unions legislation had excluded [Catholic] adoption agencies from having to treat civil-unionized couples equally.  This year’s bill is stronger and no longer includes such an exclusion.  Quoting the Catholic News Agency:

The 2012 Colorado Senate bill proposing to create the unions had stated that the bill “shall not be interpreted to require a child placement agency to place a child for adoption” with a couple in a civil union.

That language, however, is absent from the 2013 bill, S.B. 11.

Much as in other states Catholics are threatening to take their ball and go home.

If Colorado law forces the Colorado Springs-based agency to violate Catholic teaching, he said, “we probably would cease the operation of our adoption programs.”

“That risk is always there,” he said. “I think that we would try to explore every avenue available to us to provide this vital service to the community.”

He said a shutdown is “very well what could happen” given precedents in other states.

In previous years rhetoric opposing the bill was downright comical.  In 2011 local grandmother (and Eagle Forum member) Rosina Kovar provided graphic testimony about the human anus.  And in 2012 two Senators quoted the Bible in floor debate, one saying “I truly believe Jesus is a better answer than Senate Bill 2.”  There has even been a cameo by Paul Cameron.

This year we have a new religious fundamentalist to watch.

It’s widely believed that Facebook post is reffering to Vicki Marble (R-Northern Colorado I-25 corridor) who proudly touts her AFA Action scorecard on her campaign website. Unfortunately Ms Marble’s only appointments are to the Education and Local Government committees so we’ll likely have to wait for the bill to reach the Senate floor for her to embarrass herself.  And in other fundamentalist news Colorado Family Action is having a “Rally and Prayer for Marriage” on Friday Jan 25.  Legislation dealing with marriage isn’t being considered this year, and marriage is already defined in our state constitution, Amendment 43 so I’m not sure why Colorado Family Action is wasting their time having a rally about it.

The civil union bill’s first hearing is the Senate Judiciary Committee, this Wednesday, January 23, at 1:30 p.m. in the Old Supreme Court Chambers.  Committee hearings are broadcast as audio-only on the Colorado Channel’s website.

The final bill is expected to pass and be signed by mid March with the first civil union licenses issued May 1st.

Comments

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CPT_Doom
January 21st, 2013 | LINK

“If Colorado law forces the Colorado Springs-based agency to violate Catholic teaching, he said, ‘we probably would cease the operation of our adoption programs.'”

Then you should never have started such programs, because existing Colorado and federal laws both require you to violate Catholic teaching on a daily basis, if you want to run an adoption agency. Even a Catholic agency has to consider, say, Mormon parents equally to Christian parents, even though they have turned their backs on God to worship in a fake “church.” So apparently being a godless heathen is still better than being a homosexual?

Lord_Byron
January 21st, 2013 | LINK

“If Colorado law forces the Colorado Springs-based agency to violate Catholic teaching, he said, ‘we probably would cease the operation of our adoption programs.’”

And the problem with that is what exactly? They did that in IL and, I know shocking, other non-religious groups were able to actually do what the catholic groups were doing. You know like placing children with loving families instead of caring about whether that family meets some bizarre criteria.

Hunter
January 21st, 2013 | LINK

It’s also worth noting that in the case of Illinois — and, I believe, Massachusetts as well, which is the other big victim card the Church likes to play — non-discrimination laws were already on the books, but it only became a problem when civil unions or marriage were in the mix.

Forgive me if the timing seems suspect. I would never suspect the Church of political motivations. Ever.

Steve
January 21st, 2013 | LINK

Good. Those so-called “Catholic” adoption agencies are merely tax-funded subcontractors. They aren’t even legally in charge of the children.

Josh
January 21st, 2013 | LINK

Do Catholic adoption agencies currently discriminate against divorced people, atheists, assorted non-Catholics, those who get drunk sometimes, gamblers, unmarried sexually active couples, etc.? If not, I fail to see why gay parents are a new problem worth shutting down over. It seems bizarre for them to prefer to adopt a child into a straight home where they’ll be raised agnostic than in a gay home where they’ll be raised Catholic, for instance.

It always seems like anti-gay Christians put gayness under some sort of heightened scrutiny. I once heard a sermon on that very topic, where the takeaway was supposed to be, “Yeah, gay sex is sin, but so are a lot of things. Don’t treat it too harshly like we all seem to.” (that message isn’t ideal, but it was better than I expected.)

Robert
January 21st, 2013 | LINK

Josh, yes, Catholic adoption agencies do discriminate against single people, drunks, gamblers and unmarried sexually active people during their background checks on prospective parents. Most adoption agencies, regardless of affiliation, discriminate on amny of the things you list. It’s almost impossibel to adopt a child in the USA, that is why so many people adopt from China, Russia and other places. It was, until recently, fairly easy to adopt from out of country, as compared to adopting in country. Not to mention I don’t understand why it is so damn expensive for someone to go through adoption process. Seems you would want to place children, not cost people tens of thousands of dollars or more to adopt. Rather discouraging to the whole purpose.

Robert
January 21st, 2013 | LINK

Colorado Republicans, much like Congressional Republicans, seem to have a habit of passing up legislation that gives them most of what they want, and then get stuck having to deal with legislation that ignores their wants. I personally hope they keep it up.

We saw the rejection of Obama’s debt ceiling offer (major cuts to Social Security, and almost all they wanted, but it wasn’t their idea of perfect) ended up getting much less once it was done.

I hope they keep it up nation wide.

Timothy Kincaid
January 21st, 2013 | LINK

“Forgive me if the timing seems suspect. I would never suspect the Church of political motivations. Ever.”

Heavens, no. Surely not. Never has the Church placed political expediency or the quest for power ahead of basic decency. Goodness, who would dare think such a thing.

Timothy Kincaid
January 21st, 2013 | LINK

Frankly, I think that the Catholic Church may just be tired of all that troublesome “caring for the less fortunate” stuff and is seizing on an excellent excuse not to allocate any resources in that direction.

Surely, Christ never intended the Church to look after orphans and widows in their distress. No, the Church is called to proclaim the kingdom of the Vatican God.

Jon Trouten
January 21st, 2013 | LINK

Regarding Catholic Charities and Illinois. Keep in mind that Catholic Social Services of Southern Illinois did indeed close and stop providing adoption and foster care services after Illinois passed its civil union law. Which sounds terrible.

But… they also re-branded themselves and re-opened the next day as Christian Social Services of Illinois. Same office. Same staff. Same services. No connection to the Diocese. (http://bit.ly/xUdcv6)

Jon Trouten
January 21st, 2013 | LINK

“Josh, yes, Catholic adoption agencies do discriminate against single people, drunks, gamblers and unmarried sexually active people during their background checks on prospective parents. Most adoption agencies, regardless of affiliation, discriminate on amny of the things you list. It’s almost impossibel to adopt a child in the USA, that is why so many people adopt from China, Russia and other places. It was, until recently, fairly easy to adopt from out of country, as compared to adopting in country. Not to mention I don’t understand why it is so damn expensive for someone to go through adoption process. Seems you would want to place children, not cost people tens of thousands of dollars or more to adopt. Rather discouraging to the whole purpose.”

It’s not almost impossible to adopt a child in the USA. I know many who’ve done it. We went through our state’s foster care system. The cost was nominal and the rest of tax deductible.

Jon Trouten
January 21st, 2013 | LINK

Sorry. “The cost was nominal and the rest WAS tax deductible.”

Robert
January 21st, 2013 | LINK

John, I have friends, a few different couples, and they are going through the process right now. Their experience is not the same as yours. VERY costly and time consumming. Also, as a child from foster care myself, your experience is unusual. Normally foster children are not up for adoption, and if so it usually takes a lot of money and effort. I guess it might depend on where you live.

There was an article on HP just a couple of months ago by a gay couple who adopted, and their experience was more similar to what I describe, than what you do.

I’d also be interested in WHEN you adopted.

Jon Trouten
January 21st, 2013 | LINK

We adopted about 5-6 years ago. I know many who had adopted before then and I know many who’ve adopted since then.

Foster care is meant to be temporary. That’s a given — or it should be.

Part of my observance is that too many people want young children — infant to toddler — and they want to adopt right away. It doesn’t work that way in most situations in reality — even international adoptions.

There is risk involved in most forms of non-traditional family options. International adoption is a wonderful option for those who go that route. We didn’t and it worked well for us.

StraightGrandmother
January 21st, 2013 | LINK

Daniel G. Very informative and hopeful article. I always enjoy seeing your name at the header of an article.

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