Campaign for civil unions gets underway in Colorado
January 15th, 2012
Colorado’s legislative session began last Wednesday and while most of the excitement was in Denver, equality org One Colorado held their civil union campaign kickoff in Colorado Springs that evening. It was a low profile event, not designed for the media but rather for community members who’s excitement and passion is an absolute must in the effort to get civil unions passed into law.
Since last year’s effort Public Policy Polling has reported support for civil unions has grown from 71% to 76%. That makes civil unions more popular than even Tim Tebow who polls at 59% favorability. And that support for civil unions is not confined to urban centers like Denver, in advance of Wednesday’s legislative kickoff the Durango Herald editorialized in support. Also attracting positive media attention is a new group of Republicans for civil unions called Coloradans for Freedom which approaches the issue from traditional GOP philosophies of individual liberty and fiscal responsibility.
But back to One Colorado’s kickoff – speakers included:
After the event attendees enjoyed light refreshments and lingered to chat — I was able to reconnect with several people I hadn’t seen since last year’s campaign. One Colorado is setting a decidedly different tone in this year’s push for civil unions.
Oh I should add that the following day in his state-of-the-state address, Governor John Hickenlooper endorsed civil unions, saying:
“We don’t believe we should legislate what happens inside a church or place of worship, but government should treat all people equally,” Hickenlooper said. “It’s time to pass civil unions.”
If you’re interested in adding your voice to call for civil unions feel free to sign One Colorado’s petition here.
Pat Robertson seemingly baffled by someone else’s Thanksgiving food tradition
November 23rd, 2011
Given Right Wing Watch‘s scare quotes around “black thing” in the video title I think I’m supposed to be offended by Pat’s confusion regarding a tradition of mac and cheese served at Thanksgiving celebrations in many black families.
My dad’s family is from Las Cruces, NM and every Thanksgiving we serve New Mexico red chile and corn tortillas with our dinner.
It’s totally a “New Mexico thing” and I’m proud of that. Would I expect it to befuddle a person with an incredibly narrowly focused cultural and world-view like Pat Robertson? Duh. He’s probably still confused by women who wear pants.
Feel free to start a discussion in the comments about your own family’s cultural food traditions at Thanksgiving.
Red chile photo via the food blog Girl With Spoon
Film Review: “This Is What Love In Action Looks Like”
Finally an ex-gay documentary that's not simply a collection of interviews about the past, but one that's centered around a compelling event and story as it's unfolding.
August 29th, 2011
In 2005, 16 year old Zach Stark was sent by his parents, against his will, to the residential ex-gay program Love In Action. Protests and nationwide attention ensued. It was probably the biggest ex-gay news story since Exodus board member/spokesman John Paulk was caught in a Washington DC gay bar.
Local filmmaker Morgan Jon Fox was there from the start of the protests, capturing it all and has spent the last six years creating his finished product of This Is What Love In Action Looks Like, a new independent film currently on the festival circuit.
I’ve spent years writing for various websites that track and monitor ex-gay issues, and in that time I’ve reviewed a number of films about the ex-gay experience. Too often documentaries consist mainly of head-and-shoulder interviewees talking about their time in ex-gay programs years, if not decades, in the past. This Is What Love In Action Looks Like is different, filmmaker Fox was there shooting events as they unfolded and shooting interviews with key players while memories and feelings are still fresh. The finished product is stitched together to tell the story with a logical flow and progression which will allow the general public, unknowledgeable of ex-gay issues, to follow the story.
Head-and-shoulders interviews, a necessary evil, are used sparingly and effectively. Those scenes are well composed and often set in locations more far dynamic than a subject’s living room sofa. Keystone interviews are even shot with multiple cameras allowing Fox to cut to tight zooms at appropriately intense moments.
Fox scored some rather crucial interviews, Zach Stark (the 16 year old sent to the program) as well as John Smid (ran Love In Action while Zach was there and has since stepped down). Since the controversy in 2005 Smid’s views have changed (I won’t reveal how) and shows incredible courage for making himself as open, honest and vulnerable as he does during his interviews. However I must criticize Fox for not asking Smid challenging questions. In fact the only person Fox challenges is an anti-gay Alliance Defense Fund lawyer during a sidewalk press conference. There are a lot of difficult questions interviewers can ask of the ex-gay movement, and Fox fails in this respect.
Zach’s father (who sent him to the program) and Alan Chambers (president of Exodus, a national gay group) declined interviews and so their stories are told with extensive incorporation of broadcast TV footage. The other footage that most contributes to the uniqueness of the film are some very raw feeling shots of the actual street protests outside Love In Action’s facility in 2005.
The film opens with a satisfyingly long interview of Zach talking about coming out to his parents and preparing to be sent off to the program. As the story and protests unfolded Zach’s life inside the program remained a total mystery to the gay community outside protesting. Fox smartly replicates this feeling by focusing on other details and choosing only to show Zach with long-lens and grainy footage, as if we the film viewer are with protesters on the sidewalk seeing Zach from afar, wondering what is happening to the young man in the program.
My biggest gripe is that when the film is concluding Zach’s “after” interview is frustratingly short. Zach comes across as having grown into a beautiful, vibrant young man. After becoming invested in the activists who held a daily vigil outside Love In Action protesting for Zach I don’t feel enough emotional payoff in Fox’s interview with Zach. I would strongly encourage Fox to revisit his source footage and include more meaningful and satisfying moments in that final interview. (Author’s note: Fox was kind enough to respond to this issue after my review was first posted, see his quote at the bottom of the post)
My remaining criticisms of the film are somewhat minor so I’ll list them here at the end:
- While I adore the MySpace inspired title graphics, graphic styles throughout the body of the film are wildly inconsistent. Some TV footage is shown in a “streaming internet video” style border, while other footage is shown full screen, sometimes that footage is full color, other times it has a tone/filter applied. Also printed material (copies of ex-gay program rules and such) shown on screen has no stylistic consistency.
- Insufficient disclosure of people appearing on screen who are involved in the film’s production. When filmmaker Fox appears on screen his title is simply “filmmaker” which I’m not sure all viewers will take to mean his is the filmmaker for this very film. Also Peterson Toscano has a producer credit for the film but this is not disclosed at all with on screen titling.
- A couple soundtrack selections are hit or miss during the first half. The worst tracks sounded like a wind up music box composition from royalty free music websites. As the movie progresses however the music selection greatly improves and begins to compliment the emotion of the film.
- There are a few instances at the beginning of the film where former clients of Love In Action are dropping bombs about the program. Insufficient time is left after these things are said for the emotional impact to settle properly.
But the above listed criticism have no effect on my recommendation to see the film, they are more for Fox’s benefit should the movie hopefully be picked up by a distributor and is re-cut for distribution as independent films regularly are. The novelness of this film sets it apart from every ex-gay documentary done before it. When this screens in your city I strongly suggest you go and support it.
Filmmaker Fox addressed my criticism of Zach’s seemingly brief interview segment via email the afternoon my review was posted:
When we approached Zach about the interview he made it clear that he was willing to tell his story about what happened during the months that he was in Refuge and during the media firestorm, mostly to lend his account of that, and leave it to rest.
[Fox continued...] So when he requested that his current life not be pried into or pondered over or talked about, I completely understood. He wants his privacy now. Zach is a private person who quite accidentally fell into a huge spotlight and I mostly wanted to document the events of 2005 and how friends of his felt it necessary to stand up and try and make a difference, attempt to help one of their peers. I never felt it was my job to pry to pull things from Zach story and I think it took a lot of courage for him to speak out at all and I’m very grateful he lent his version of the events of that Summer of 2005.
One Colorado addresses veiled bullying of Focus’ “Day of Dialogue”
April 17th, 2011
In 2004 on the annual pro-gay Day Of Silence, Poway High School sophomore Tyler Chase Harper modified his tee shirt to read “Be Ashamed” and “Homosexuality is Shameful.” School officials asked Harper to remove the message, he refused, and was pulled from classes from the remainder of the day. Harper immediately became a celebrity in the anti-gay movement, filed a lawsuit against the school (which he would eventually lose) and became the poster-twink for the following year’s anti-gay “Day Of Truth.” Since that time the Day Of Truth has been run by Harper’s lawyers at the Alliance Defense Fund, Exodus International, and this year Focus On The Family which has renamed the event “Day Of Dialogue.”
But no matter what form this day takes, the message to gay youth remains the same; your sexuality is shameful and you must pray yourself straight.
In the current climate of bullying-awareness Colorado’s equality org, One Colorado has chosen to frame the anti-gay Day Of Dialogue as a form of bullying gay youth will be subjected to. One Colorado’s executive director Brad Clark has penned an open letter to Focus On The Family in today’s Denver Post:
I hope that the Day of Dialogue is about having a real dialogue—one that appreciates a diversity of viewpoints, including those of the American Medical Society, an esteemed organization which has concluded that being LGBT is not a disease or defect. Or the position of the American Psychological Association, which opposes any attempt to try to change one’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
If the Day of Dialogue is not truly a dialogue but a day when Focus followers will be empowered and encouraged to say hurtful things to vulnerable LGBT students—it is simply a new form of bullying. One that doesn’t punch or shove—but that takes a psychological toll on youth who deserve the same respect and dignity as any other student.
Full text of my Colorado House committee testimony on civil unions
March 31st, 2011
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.
Colorado Springs & Loveland districts vital this week in civil unions campaign
March 29th, 2011
Last week the Colorado civil unions bill cleared the Senate and moved on to the House where Republicans hold a 1-vote majority. Some have taken it as a encouraging sign that the bill was not immediately sent to a “kill committee” but rather has been sent to the House Judiciary Committee where those opposed to the bill claim it will receive “a fair hearing”
Via the Colorado Independent:
The members of the Republican majority bloc sitting on the House Judiciary Committee don’t seem like the kind of conservatives who would be persuaded by Laura Bush or Cindy McCain, however. Nor do they seem to much reflect civil-unions-friendly Colorado.
Three of the six committee Republicans are Colorado Springs social conservatives
GOP House Speaker Frank McNulty has said on several occasions that he is committed to giving the bill a fair hearing. Ferrandino has also said he believes he has enough Republican votes to pass the bill in the House and Republican representatives have begun to go on record as supporters.
On Friday, most of the GOP members of the Judiciary Committee told the Denver Post that, like McNulty, they’re also committed to “giving the bill a fair hearing,” even if they are personally opposed to civil unions.
Committee Chairman Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs, told the Post he opposes civil unions but that he is “certainly hearing from both sides” on the issue.
Rep. Mark Barker, R-Colorado Springs, said he also was committed to a fair hearing, before adding that he was a Southern Baptist.
Nikkel said she hadn’t read the bill but of course she would also give it a fair hearing.
It’s vitally important for this bill that if you have friends or loved ones who live in Colorado Springs or Loveland that you have them contact their House Representative (click here) in the next few days. Given the makeup of The Springs it’s a safe assumption that these representatives have been hearing plenty from anti-gay religious folks like Rosina Kovar.
The House committee hearing is Thursday starting at 1:30pm in the Capitol’s Old Supreme Court Chambers, second floor, north end of the building.
I will be testifying again.
Post update: I’ve learned that Reps Nikkel and Delgrosso from Loveland also sit on the committee.
Sen Scott Renfroe falsely claims gay parents are inferior to straight parents
March 24th, 2011
Today before final passage of the civil unions bill, the Colorado Senate held more floor debate on SB 172. (It now goes on to the House.) We have video of thanks to The Colorado Channel.
Much of what Senator Scott Renfroe said is true, that children do best in committed, stable, two parent households – the American Psychological Association (APA) has stated this repeatedly (source) and I testified about gay parenting to a Senate committee a few weeks ago. Quoting the APA:
“All else being equal – children do better with two parenting figures rather than just one.”
However the APA is well aware people like Sen Renfroe will try and mis-use this research to claim gay families are inferior. The APA goes on to addresses this:
“The specific research studies typically cited in this regard do not address parents’ sexual orientation.”
Furthermore nearly every mental health group in the country has come to the conclusion gays and lesbians raise children just as well as straight people do. If Sen Renfroe has a source for his claim, it certainly wasn’t presented today since I was sitting in the Senate gallery and heard his entire speech. Misuse of research and junk science like this have no place in my statehouse.
Sen Lundberg cites discredited myth in civil unions floor debate
March 23rd, 2011
Today the Colorado Senate held a floor debate on SB 172, civil unions. The main opposition came from Senator Kevin Lundberg who we have video of thanks to The Colorado Channel.
We’ve all heard this myth, recognition of gay relationships in Europe (France & Scandinavia) has caused a breakdown in marriage and “the family unit.”
Here’s a video excerpt of Sen Lundberg saying it:
Of course no statistics were cited because there’s no evidence to support it. In fact this very blog has previously done posts addressing the Scandinavian myth here and here, and Slate.com has a fabulous piece here.
The real data tells a very different story, in most Scandinavian countries marriage has been in decline for up to half a century, long before we pesky gays started publicly demanding equality.
In more recent times those countries have started offering various forms of gay relationship recognition and things have changed in a dramatic way, quoting Slate:
Danish heterosexual marriage rates are now the highest they’ve been since the early 1970′s. And the most recent marriage rates in Sweden, Norway, and Iceland are all higher than the rates for the years before the partner laws were passed. Furthermore, in the 1990s, divorce rates in Scandinavia remained basically unchanged.
Now let’s take a look at births outside of marriage in Norway (source). The date civil unions were enacted is shown with a red triangle:
If Senator Lundberg has other data to prove his claim hopefully he’ll present it when the civil unions bill goes for a 3rd reading on the Senate floor tomorrow.
Sen Lundberg (inadvertently?) demonstrates how his family enjoys heterosexual privilege
March 23rd, 2011
Today the Colorado Senate held a floor debate on SB 172, civil unions. The main opposition came from Senator Kevin Lundberg who we have video of thanks to The Colorado Channel.
One of the main ideas of heterosexual privilege is never having your family questioned.
Follow the logic if you can (paraphrased)
- I, Kevin Lundberg, had my wife hospitalized last week and nobody questioned our family, for I am just a simple man in a position of power… and heterosexual… and white…
- If there are gays in my district or elsewhere in the state, I haven’t heard any stories of them having trouble in medical situations. Surely nobody would ever question the validity of a non-traditional family! And certainly not in the rural areas I represent.
- By extension there is no problem with gays making medical decisions and this bill is unnecessary.
Here’s the video excerpt:
Coloardo Senate committee hears testimony about the human anus
March 8th, 2011
Yesterday a Colorado Senate committee held a hearing on civil unions legislation. Members of the public were free to sign up and testify.
I posted this video last night and sent it out to a few of my friends for their entertainment. I wake up this morning and find it’s taken on a life of it’s own, even appearing on the Denver Post’s blog site.
I’ll let Rosina Kovar, an at-large director for the Eagle Forum, take it from here:
Full text of my Colorado Senate committee testimony on civil unions
March 7th, 2011
The Colorado Senate is holding committee hearings on the civil unions bill today and I will be testifying. I’ve noticed that Focus has been coming at the issue in the media from the angle of “the body of scientific research proves that children do best with a mom and a dad.” Not one to let their abuse of research slide I have written a testimony that takes Focus head on. Full text after the jump.
Colorado LGBT Lobby Day and civil unions update
February 25th, 2011
In their continuing legislative campaign for civil unions, One Colorado held an “LGBT lobby day” where 120 Coloradans from all over the state met with their legislators. Most impressive was the contingent from Grand Junction who had to depart at 3am to arrive in time for the morning event.
As he says in the video, Rep Mark Ferrandino now believes if the bill reaches the floor of the House that it will pass (despite a Republican majority of one vote). The real threat to the bill is being sent to a kill-committee by Speaker Of The House Frank McNulty and thus never being voted on.
Here’s footage I shot from the day’s events:
(turn your speakers up, the Capitol is a busy and echoey building so there’s some background noise)
A very busy Valentines Day here in Colorado
February 15th, 2011
Here’s the top 3 highlights from today:
- Sen Pat Steadman formally introduced his civil union legislation. (text of the bill on Scribd here)
- One Colorado held a press conference where they presented legislators with over 1,000 valentines from constituents in support of civil unions, there was even a lesbian dressed as cupid.
- I successfully received a marriage license to a woman, something I hadn’t really planned on doing. My former ex-gay therapist is no doubt proud.
It’s currently 1am and I’ve been going non-stop all day so I’m going to hold off on analysis of the full bill wording and wait for someone more legal minded take it on. However One Colorado’s press event today was damn good theater. I’ve been shooting video of most of their public events so here’s the event summarized in a 2min30sec video:
For our Colorado readers, One Colorado is asking that you take a minute and click here to email your legislator in support of civil unions.
Later in the afternoon the Colorado chapter of Marriage Equality USA held a direct action at the county clerk and recorder’s office where numerous same-sex couples would apply for and be denied marriage licenses. Around 4pm the media arrived and local activist couple and life partners Kate and Sheila (who have a history of getting arrested at the clerk’s office) applied for and were denied a license. To illustrate the arbitrary nature of our state’s marriage laws Kate grabbed a gay man near her and declared that she would therefore obtain a license with him.
However getting a license is harder than we activists had planned. Kate’s first groom-to-be forgot his ID, a requirement for a license. Kate then found a second groom-to-be who had actually been married earlier in life and since he was unable to recall his exact divorce date for the application he wouldn’t work either.
Standing at the clerk and recorder’s counter that’s when Kate turned around and asked if anyone in the assembled crowd would marry her. There was no reply so I volunteered myself.
Exodus Co-Founder: “The initial excitement of starting an exgay program”
A multi-part video interview series with Michael Bussee, co-founder of Exodus International turned critic.
February 9th, 2011
One of my favorite ex-gay topics to talk about is how people fool themselves into believing that their sexual orientation and attractions are actually changing (I spoke about my own experience here). In ex-gay speak it’s often called the “honeymoon period.”
In today’s video Exodus International co-founder Michael Bussee talks about his own honeymoon period and how he wasn’t simply experiencing it as participant but ministry leader. Michael explains how he mistook that initial excitement for actual change. For Michael and many ex-gays he lead, such an intense focus on spirituality begins to take precedence over one’s own sexuality and he explains how he mistook that diminished libido for change and not simply repression (his word). And as with many ex-gays, meeting other struggling gay Christians for the first time is the first step in their greater coming out process.
Exodus Co-Founder: “It was a terrible mistake for Exodus to get involved in politics”
A multi-part video interview series with Michael Bussee, co-founder of Exodus International turned critic.
February 7th, 2011
Exodus turns 35 this year and Focus On The Family has a brief but glowing article that totally glosses over all the tragedies Exodus, it’s leaders, and followers have experienced during that time.
In today’s video Exodus International co-founder Michael Bussee explains how Exodus has changed over time — in his view Exodus’ foray into anti-gay political activism has been it’s biggest mistake.
[full transcript after the jump]
Highlights from One Colorado’s civil union campaign kick off
January 31st, 2011
Things have been ramping up for a while now but yesterday was the official kick off press conference. Here are some highlights I shot and edited:
LGBT criticism of Colorado civil union campaign as incrementalist
December 23rd, 2010
Senator Pat Steadman recently announced a campaign for civil unions in the 2011 legislative session. The first opposition from within the LGBT community appeared today in this Denver Post guest commentary:
We were legally married in San Francisco on Sept. 25, 2008, and we introduce ourselves as each other’s husbands. We are appalled that anyone, especially members of the gay community, would be willing to settle, much less offer to settle, for anything less than full marriage equality.
…we are putting our Lakewood home on the market to finance our efforts and we plan to take our fight back to federal court if necessary.
First bravo to Carllon and Martinez for the sacrifices they are making to fight for marriage equality. This isn’t mentioned in their article but Carllon was among those arrested for blocking the entrance to the Episcopal Church national convention at a Denver Soulforce event in July of 2000 according to local organizer Chris Hubble.
However as an activist myself I don’t expect everyone in the community to make the same sacrifices I choose to.
LGBT Coloradans and their families will benefit immediately from protections that civil unions would provide. I try not to think about how long we will wait until Colorado voters are prepared to overturn the state’s marriage amendment or until Carllon and Martinez’ lawsuit might bear fruit in a glacial federal court system.
In One Colorado’s 2010 statewide LGBT survey more than one quarter of respondents earn less than $25,000 per year (source).
Consider for example my friend and fellow activist Christine Bakke who is getting married next month. After reading the Denver Post commentary Christine reacted:
[Colorado's] Designated beneficiaries and the Denver domestic partnership cost us I think $50 to file. We’re on a limited budget and can’t easily pick up and go to another state to get married when it won’t be recognized here. Nor can we pull money out of our pocket to pay for a lawyer to put in place the stuff that a civil union or marriage would give us.
Jessica Woodrum, Communications Manager at One Colorado, provided comment by email about the real prospects of full marriage equality in Colorado currently:
The path to marriage equality in Colorado is difficult. Unlike other states that have achieved marriage equality, our state constitution contains an amendment that bans marriage for same-sex couples. Until this amendment is overturned in the courts or by a ballot vote of Colorado voters, full marriage equality is not possible in Colorado.
One Colorado supports full marriage equality, but we believe that same-sex couples need the critical protections that civil unions provide right now. Especially in these tough economic times, we must ensure that all Coloradans have the tools they need to provide for the ones they love.
Are you sick of the financial argument at this point? Moving on…
Carllon and Martinez assert that incrementalism will impair progress to full equality:
So what will a civil unions bill accomplish other than to cede the fight for full equality?
There can be no substitute for equality and it cannot be achieved incrementally, as we have learned from the failed “don’t ask, don’t tell” law. If the gay community is willing to accept the crumbs off the marriage table, they may never see the cake.
This is grossly inaccurate and the last decade of LGBT rights legislative action across the nation is proof.
Vermont, Washington DC, California, New Hampshire and Connecticut all had some form of civil unions or domestic partnerships before making a move to full marriage equality. Maryland which currently has domestic partnerships appears ready to legislate full marriage in 2011.
And nearly half the states that currently have trans-inclusive nondiscrimination laws achieved them through incrementalism. (i.e. passing sexual orientation protection one year and later adding gender identity) Here’s the data.
I don’t believe any LGBT leader in Colorado finds civil unions to be an acceptable final or permanent solution. Nor do I believe civil unions will delay the path to full equality. Instead civil unions will prime Colorado voters to accept full marriage equality. A significant portion of Colorado’s LGBT community (including people I care about) are tremendously vulnerable, and civil unions would go a long way to help improve their lives. But it seems to me unfair and perhaps unintentionally out of touch for Carllon and Martinez to ask the most vulnerable Coloradans to sacrifice for the activist ideals of another person.
Civil unions campaign announced in Colorado
December 16th, 2010
Well this announcement came sooner than I was expecting, I crack open my Denver Post app this morning and see “Colorado lawmaker plans to introduce civil-unions bill.” Here’s some excerpts:
Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, said he believes the majority of Coloradans support civil unions and oppose gays being treated unfairly.
Steadman, who is gay, said he expects his proposal to pass the Democratic-controlled Senate, but he’s not sure what kind of reception the idea will get in the Republican-controlled House.
True on both counts, but One Colorado (our new statewide equality group) surveyed the state earlier this year and found a dramatic shift in Coloradans’ opinions on civil unions:
The  poll results show that 72 percent of Coloradans support legal recognition for gay and lesbian couples. This compares to 2006, when 48 percent of Colorado voters supported domestic partnership legislation for gay and lesbian couples.
But Steadman and One Coloardo have their work cut out for them since Republicans hold a slim majority in the House (we have a bicameral assembly).
For strictly pragmatic reasons I’m hoping Steadman (who’s openly gay and represents the district I live in) will include a “religious protections” clause in our legislation as was recently used in Illinois. Yes I know the First Amendment already provides these protections but from a publicity standpoint having the wording in the bill really helps diffuse religious hysteria and objection. Here’s that section from the Illinois bill:
Section 102. Religious Freedom. Nothing in this Act shall be construed to interfere with or regulate religious practice of the many faiths in Illinois that grant the status, sacrament, and blessing of marriage under wholly separate religious rules, practices, or traditions of such faiths. Additionally, nothing in this Act shall be construed as to require any religious body, Indian Nation, Indian Tribe, Native Group, or officiant thereof to solemnize or officiate a civil union or to prohibit any religious body, Indian Nation, Indian Tribe, Native Group, or officiant thereof from solemnizing or officiating a civil union. Any religious body, Indian Nation or Tribe or Native Group or officiant thereof is free to choose whether or not to solemnize and whether or not to officiate civil unions.
I’ve already contacted Steadman to thank him and let him know the Illinois bill is a great model for bipartisanship, his office contact info can be found here.
Happenings in Colorado – family album project
December 7th, 2010
One Colorado is our newly formed state equality group, with startup money from the Gill Foundation and headed by Brad Clark fresh from his success at One Iowa. As a politically active Coloradan (some people prefer Coloradoan) and BTB contributor, in the coming months I’m going to be covering the Colorado beat in an attempt to bring national attention to work being done here.
A week ago One Colorado and a coalition of other orgs called on governor elect Hickenlooper to form a safe schools task force.
This week One Colorado announced their Family Album Project to collect images and stories from LGBT Coloradans. Of course this album will be used as an important tool when meeting with legislators, especially to show that LGBT people don’t just live in Denver but are all across the state in every electoral district.
One Colorado hasn’t yet formally announced their legislative and policy agenda for 2011 but plan on the album project being a key part in working towards those goals as well.
If you’re interested in helping out, start by emailing your photo to One Colorado’s communications manager Jess Woodrum at email@example.com. She’ll probably be in touch with some follow up questions to gather your story and help tell it.
Ex-gay survivor and former Living Waters client Christine Bakke engaged
November 15th, 2010
In September I was thrilled to announce the engagement of ex-gay survivor Jacob Wilson but now we’ve got another high profile ex-gay survivor engagement, Christine Bakke!
Christine (a graphic designer) and Theresa (a medical grant writer) met on Facebook through a mutual friend who was a member of Gay Christian Network (GCN) and came to be good friends over the course of several months. Theresa was living in Portland at the time and when she came to Denver for a concert met Christine face to face for the first time.
In February Theresa orchestrated an elaborate proposal treasure hunt where friends as far away as Canada participated by giving Christine clues to travel to various places around Denver all having meaning to Christine.
The ceremony will be held on Sunday January 9th 2011, the same weekend as GCN’s conference in Denver so Christine and Theresa’s friends from the organization can attend more easily. Long time Evangelicals Concerned member Joe Quillan will MC the secular ceremony. With Joe as MC three selected couples will take turns leading the ceremony.
As Colorado does not issue same-sex civil marriage licenses Christine and Theresa will be taking advantage of the state’s designated beneficiaries law. Also both Christine and Theresa were born in California and have considered applying for a civil marriage license once equality is restored there.