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Posts for January, 2013

Colorado Civil Unions Clear Senate Committee

Jim Burroway

January 24th, 2013

A bill to grant civil unions to Colorado’s same-sex couples cleared its first hurdle yesterday when the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 3-2 on straight party lines to approve the bill. The bill’s next stop is the Appropriations Committee before moving to the full Senate.

There were a number of people testifying against the bill. Among them were Mark Rohlena, of Catholic Charities of Central Colorado, who complained that unlike previous versions of the bill, this one doesn’t have a religious conscience exemption clause which would allow adoption agencies to refuse to place children with same-sex couples. But Sen. Pat Steadman (D-Denver), the bill’s sponsor, noted that when the exemption was in previous versions of the bill Catholic leaders testified against it anyway, so he decided not to include it in the bill this year. An attempt to add the amendment to the bill failed.

Live audio of Colorado civil union committee hearing

Daniel Gonzales

January 23rd, 2013

Sen Steadman (left, D-Central/Southeast Denver) is again presenting his bill to his Senate peers in committee.

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This afternoon the Colorado civil unions bill is having its first committee hearing.  I posted some background on Monday.

Here’s live audio from the Colorado Channel. To follow the conversation on Twitter use hashtag #COleg or feel free to comment on this post below.

Update: The hearing has concluded.

Colorado Rep DelGrosso fundamentally misunderstands State Constitution

Daniel Gonzales

January 23rd, 2013

Rep. Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland

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From the Colorado Springs Gazette:

In 2006, Colorado voters approved an amendment defining marriage as only between one man and one woman.

Rep. Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland, who voted against civil union bills in committees the past two years, said he questions the constitutionality of the proposed bill.

“The voters of Colorado have clearly said this is what we expect,” DelGrosso said. “How can you prove to us that what you’re doing is constitutional? That you’re not just changing the name of something and trying to pretend that it’s something that it’s not — same-sex marriage.”

‎Brian DelGrosso seems to fundamentally misunderstand how Colorado’s constitution.  Our neighbors in Utah, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma have all passed amendments that not only ban gay marriage but also ban civil unions.  Here in Colorado our constitution says nothing of civil unions.

The authors of Colorado Amendment 43 and voters have left the door open for us to have civil unions here in Colorado.

And yes, DelGrosso represents Loveland. Oh the irony.

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.

Colorado: Election Results Clear Path for Civil Unions in 2013 Legislature

Daniel Gonzales

November 9th, 2012

Rep Ferrandino testifying to a committee in support of civil unions during the 2012 legislative session. Photo by me.

 

Last legislative session Republican House Speaker Frank McNulty killed 30+ bills at the end of the session rather than allow a civil unions bill to reach the floor of the House.  At the time the Republicans held a one vote majority in the Colorado House.

McNulty covered in political flop-sweat and desperation explaining to the Capitol press pool his decision to kill 30+ bills rather than allow civil unions to reach the floor. Photo by Sean Mullins of OutFront Colorado.

 

Gay supporters were livid by McNulty’s willingness to allow government to break down in such a way just to stop civil unions and formed a group, Fight Back Colorado dedicated to re-taking the House majority.  Fight Back targeted three vulnerable races and on Tuesday night successfully unseated all three GOP Reps.  Not only that but Dems won almost every contested seat and now control the House 37-28, in addition to retaining control of the Senate and governorship (which wasn’t up this election).

Outgoing Speaker McNulty congrats Ferrandino on Thursday.

 

McNulty was replaced yesterday by Mark Ferrandino, who is our first openly gay Speaker Of The House and also happens to represent my district.

The path has been cleared for civil unions to pass in 2013.

Voters Send Record Number of LGBT Pols to Washington

Jim Burroway

November 7th, 2012

“Now, I am well aware that I will have the honor of being Wisconsin’s first woman senator. And I am well aware that I will be the first openly gay member,” Baldwin said to loud cheers and chants of “Tammy, Tammy!” from her supporters. “But I didn’t run to make history. I ran to make a difference.”

Yesterday’s election was a watershed moment for LGBT equality. Not only did voters defeat attempts to deny marriage equality in four states at the ballot box, but a record number of LGBT representatives will be going to Washington to serve in Congress, including the nation’s first openly gay Senator, Tammy Baldwin (D) from Wisconsin. With 99.6% of the vote counted, Baldwin defeated former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) 1,528,941 (51.5%) to ,363,994 (45.9%).

Five other openly gay representatives have won their races for Congress. Returning to Congress are Jared Polis (D-CO) and David Cicilline (D-RI). New gay members include Mark Takano (D-CA), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), and Mark Pocan (D-WI). Pocan made history himself be becoming the first openly gay representative to take over a House seat from another openly gay representative when he won Rep. Tammy Baldwin’s old seat.

Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema (D) leads in a tight race over former Paradise Vally mayor Vernon Walker (R) to become the first openly bi member of Congress. All precincts have been reported, but there are still a number of provisional ballots to be counted, making a final call in that race impossible.

Click here to see the latest results for Congress.

Election Liveblog

Jim Burroway

November 6th, 2012

2:00 EST: One more thing:

Iowa Supreme Court Justice Retention Vote:
David Wiggins:
Yes (retain): 54% 
No: 46%
83% reporting.

NOM is having a very bad night. A historically bad night. I’m going to bed now and I will sleep very, very soundly.

1:39 EST: President Obama is now giving his victory speech. And with that, I’m going to sign off for the night. I will provide an update with the latest results again tomorrow morning.

1:30 EST: Here is a rundown of all of the LGBT-related races I’ve been following:

BALLOT MEASURES:

Maine, Question 1: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 54.2% √
No: 45.8%
58.1% reporting.

Maryland, Question 6: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 51.2% 
No: 48.1%
96.8% reporting.

Minnesota, Amendment 1: Same-sex marriage ban.
No: 49.2.5%
Blanks: 1.5%
Yes: 49.2%
67.4% reporting.
Remember: The Amendment needs to pass by more than half of all ballots cast. Blanks will be added to the “no” vote for the final tally.

Washington, Referendum 74: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 51.8.9%
No: 48.2%
49.9% reporting.

SENATE RACE:

Wisconsin:
Tammy Baldwin (D, openly lesbian): 51.2%
Tommy Thompson (R): 46.2.%
86.8% reporting.

CONGRESSIONAL RACES:

Arizona:
Kyrsten Sinema (D, openly bi): 47.4%
Vernon Parker (R): 46.3%
86% reporting.

California:
Mark Takano (D, openly gay): 54.4%
John Tavaglione (R): 45.6%
13% reporting.

Colorado:
Jared Polis (D, openly gay): 54.6%
Kevin Lundberg (R): 40.4%
45.3% reporting.

Massachusetts:
Richard Tisei (R, openly gay): 47.1%
John Tierney (D) 48.4%
98.3% reporting.

New York:
Sean Patrick Maloney (D, openly gay): 51.7%
Nan Hayworth (R): 48.3%
96.7% reporting.

Rhode Island:
David Cicilline (D, openly gay): 53.1%
Brendan Dohert (R): 40.7%
97.0% reporting

Wisconsin:
Mark Pocan (D, openly gay): 67.4%
Chad Lee (R): 32.6%
90.5% reporting.

12:55 EST: Gov. Mitt Romney is now giving a very classy consession speech, congratulating President Obama for his win.

12:50 EST: Here is a rundown of the ballot measures addressing same-sex marriage. Voters in two states have approved marriage equality. Voters in Washington are on their way to approving marriage equality, and Minnesota voters look poised to turn down a proposal to write a permanent ban on same-sex marriage in the state’s constitution. After voters in 30 states have written marriage equality bans into their state constitutions, we now have a remarkable turnaround in 2012. Remember this day.

Maine, Question 1: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 54% 
No: 46%
51% Reporting

Maryland, Question 6: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 52% 
No: 48%
93% Reporting

Minnesota, Amendment 1: Same-sex marriage ban.
No: 48.5%
Blanks: 3.7%
Yes: 47.9%
53% reporting.
Remember: The Amendment needs to pass by more than half of all ballots cast. Blanks will be added to the “no” vote for the final tally.

Washington, Referendum 74: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 52%
No: 48%
50% reporting.

12:40 EST: Tammy Baldwin has now given her victory speech. With 79% reporting, she has defeated Gov. Tommy Thompson 51-47%, making her the first openly gay Senator in American history.

12:38 EST: Now I’m ready to call Maryland’s Question 6 a win for equality! With 92% reporting, Question 6 has passed 1,126,598 to 1,050,179 (52-48%) Maryland voters have joined those in Maine to approve marriage equality at the ballot box. I don’t know about you, but this really feels like a truly historic turning point.

12:30 EST: Colorado has now gone to Obama, bringing his lead to 290-201. There’s a lot of talk about whether Ohio was prematurely declared, but even if Ohio went red, this would still be Obama’s victory. An ugly one, especially if he doesn’t win the popular vote, but it is a win.

12:28 EST: Another gay congressman is headed to Washington. Sean Patrick Maloney (D) has defeated Rep. Nan Hayworth (R), 52%-48%.

12:15 EST: Believe it or not, Politico has had the results swapped between Question 6 and the “Illegal immigrant tuition” question all night long. For the love of god!!!  Question 6 is up, but only 52-48%, way too early to call.

12:00 EST: With 44.1% reporting in Maine, Question 1 is projected to win!

Maine, Question 1: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 54.4%
No: 45.6%
44.1% Reporting

11:45 EST: With 81% reporting in Maryland, Question 6 is projected to win!

Maryland, Question 6: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 58%
No: 42%
81% Reporting

11:31 EST: Remember James Hartline?

I took my Bible with me today and proudly honored God with my decisions. I refused to vote for the demonized Mormon Cultist Mitt Romney or Obama. Instead, like nearly two million other voters, I marked other and wrote in Jesus.

11:30 EST: Has Tammy Baldwin won her Senate race? Reuters called it, but right now with 53% reporting, she is only up 49-48%. She may yet win, but it looks like a lot of folks might have jumped the gun a bit.

11:23 EST: CNN has given Ohio to Obama. President Barack Obama, the most pro-gay president in American history, has been re-elected.

11:05 EST: A slew of new projections has put Obama on top 243-191. Ohio continues to lean toward Romney, but CNN is now mapping out multiple possibilities for Obama to win even without Ohio.

Here are the state marriage ballot measures. All of them are still looking good so far.

Maine, Question 1: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 53%
No: 47%
30% Reporting

Maryland, Question 6: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 58%
No: 42%
55% Reporting

Minnesota: Amendment 1: Same-sex marriage ban.
No: 52%
Blanks: 3.8%
Yes: 45%
19% Reporting
Remember: The Amendment needs to pass by more than half of all ballots cast. Blanks will be added to the “no” vote for the final tally.

10:55 EST: Obama is now tied with Romney, 172-172. Ohio is leaning toward Obama, and FLorida and Virginia are very nearly tied so far. It’s going to be a long night.

10:35 EST: Great news so far in the three states with marriage on the ballot that are reporting:

Maine, Question 1: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 55%
No: 45%
16% Reporting

Maryland, Question 6: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 60%
No: 40%
41% Reporting

Minnesota: Amendment 1: Same-sex marriage ban.
No: 57%
Blanks: 1.5%
Yes: 42%
7% Reporting
Remember: The Amendment needs to pass by more than half of all ballots cast. Blanks will be added to the “no” vote for the final tally.

10:25 EST. In Rhode Island, it looks like openly gay Rep. David Cicilline has defeated Republican challenger Brendan Doherty. With 82% reporting, Cicilline is ahead 50-44%.

In Massachusetts, Richard Tisei is trailing in his question to become the first openly gay Republican congressman. Rep. John Tierney is leading 49-47% with 58% reporting.

10:15 EST: We can celebrate Tammy Baldwin’s win now. Fox News is projecting that she will be the new fabulously openly lesbian Senator from Wisconsin. History is made!

Question 1 in Maine is now tightening. With 11% reporting, it is now up 53-47%.

10:00 EST: Mitt Romney has won his home state of Utah. But he lost New Hampshire

With 7% reporting, Question 1 is passing in Maine, 55-45%.

With 23% reporting, Question 6 is passing in Maryland, 61-39%.

With only 3% reporting, Amendment 1 is trailing in Minnesota. 61-38%, with about 1.5% of the ballots blank for the proposed amendment. Blank ballots are will be counted as no votes.

9:45 EST: CNN Projects Elizabeth Warren (D) has unseated Scott Brown (R) in Massachusetts, and JOe Donnelly (D) has defeated Richard Mourdock (R) in Indiana. God’s will, you know. These are both pick-ups for Dems.

9:42 EST: NBC and Fox have given Wisconsin to Obama. CNN has finally given Pennsylvania to Obama also.

9:35 EST: The Associated Press has declared Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D) the winner in her Senate race against former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R), making Baldwin the first openly gay Senator in U.S. history. Oops, take that back. The AP has NOT called for Baldwin.

9:20 EST: Fox called Pennsylvania for Obama. I’ll take it.

9:15 EST: Vote counts for Maryland’s Question 6 and Maine’s Question 1 are excruciatingly slow. With 3% counted in Maine, Question 1 is trailing 4,253-5,362. In Maryland, Question 6 is passing 192,860-157,767 with only 1% of the vote counted. Obviously with vote tallies this low, it’s way to early to see any trends.

9:00 EST: Polls close in Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Wisconsin, Wyoming. Last polls close in Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Texas. And with it, a whole slew of new projecitons, mostly lining up with expectations. So far, it looks like the red states are going heavily red, while the blue states are slower to come in. Right now, Romney is up 152-123.

CNN says that the Republicans will hold on to the House. Obama is getting a lot of grief for not campaigning in key House races on behalf of Democratic candidates.

8:50 EST: Alabama is red. Romney is up 82-64.

People are still in line in Florida and Virginia, even as polls have officially closed. Those who are in line will get to vote. Twitter hashtag #stayinline is now trending upward. It sure would have been nice if someone had mentioned to Florida and Virginia election officials that they were supposed to be ready for an election today.

8:30 EST: Polls just closed in Arkansas, which CNN has called for Romney. CNN has also called Tennessee as well, putting Romney ahead 73-64.

So far, only about 1% of the results are in for Maryland’s Question 6 and Maine’s Question 1, which means that there aren’t enough results to talk about yet.

8:25 EST: In the Senate races, it looks like the Angus King, the independent candidate for Maine’s Senator to replace Sen. Olympia Snowe (R) is headed to Washington. He hasn’t said which party he will caucus with, but most observers expect that he will caucus with the Dems. Another possible pickup for the Dems might be Joe Donnelly, who is leading Richard Mourdock by 50-44% with 30% of the votes counted. Mourdock, you may recall, got in trouble during the debate when he said that when a child is born as a result of rape, it’s God’s will.

8:16 EST: Georgia now goes to Romney, bringing the EC count to 64-56 for Obama.

8:00 EST: Polls have now closed in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Tennessee.

CNN has called a Delaware, DC, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts and Rhode Island for Obama, and Oklahoma for Romney. This puts Obama up 64-40 in the Electoral College, with Maine splitting its vote 3-1 for Obama. (Nebraska is the only other state that is not winner-take-all in the Electoral College.)

Virginia officially closed but:

Polls closed in Virginia at 7 p.m. ET, but with long lines at polling places around the state — and those in line still able to vote — the state is delaying counting votes so as not to unduly influence those still waiting in line. Smart move.

7:43 EST: CNN has now called South Carolina and West Virginia for Romney. Not much of a surprise. It’s now Romney, 33-3 in the electoral count.

Polls close in Maryland and Maine at 8:00. Hopefully we’ll start to get an early look at the marriage ballot measures in those states soon after.

7:30 EST: Polls have now closed in North Carolina, Ohio, and West Virginia. CNN’s exit poll has Obama up by 3 in Ohio and tied in North Carolina.

7:19 EST: CNN has called Kentucky for Romney, and Vermont for Obama, which means that Romney leads the electoral college count 8-3. And we’re off!

7:00 EST: Polls have closed in Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, South Carolina, Vermont, and Virginia. First results will probably begin within the half hour. Here are the races I’ll be watching, in addition to the presidential election and any others you think I should keep an eye out for.

Consider the comments thread for this post an open thread, which I’ll be watching for whatever tips you have. And jokes. We may need some jokes. Or videos of cute kittens. Whatever you got. You can also email them by hitting the Contact Us link on the sidebar.

New independent expenditure committee formed in Colorado to target anti-civil union legislators

Daniel Gonzales

June 27th, 2012

One Colorado, along with two of their biggest donors have launched an independent expenditure committee called Fight Back Colorado designed to target and defeat state legislators who killed the civil union bill twice this year, first in our regular legislative session and a second time in a special session called by the governor. Nic Garcia at OutFront Colorado has an excellent post-session story that summarized exactly what happened and why the LGBT community is so angry at the Republican House leadership.

In an email blast sent to One Colorado supporters this morning, Executive Director Brad Clark wrote:

This independent expenditure committee is designed to hold anti-equality legislators accountable for their actions. This will be a deliberate and strategic campaign, targeting resources to defeat state legislators who killed civil unions in Colorado. Once we replace enough anti-equality representatives with pro-equality representatives, we will close up shop.

Presumably this group will target anti-civil union Representatives in the House which Republicans currently control by one vote.  If Democrats were to take control of the House in November, Rep Mark Ferrandino, the House sponsor of the civil union bill, would be made Speaker Of The House.

OutFront’s Garcia published an article this morning that has many other interesting observations:

…supporters of the Colorado Civil Union Act have taken the first steps to replicate a successful strategy executed during the 2010 New York state Senate elections that paved the way to marriage equality legislation becoming law in the Empire State.

The committee, Fight Back Colorado, has taken the New York organization’s moniker, website and talking points.

And it shouldn’t come as a surprise. The single largest donor to Fight Back New York is Colorado activist and philanthropist Tim Gill.

It should also be noted that according to the Fight Back Colorado’s website and filings with the CO Secretary of State’s office the group is registered to Roger Sherman, who is listed as one of One Colorado’s most elite donors.

Garcia continues:

Fight Back Colorado has not publicly announced which lawmakers they plan to attack.

“We’re not going to have the resources to unseat everyone,” Sherman said. “So we’re going to do our research. We’re going to do polling and identify the most vulnerable seats.”

The group’s website is http://www.fightback-co.com/.  This group is independent of One Colorado so if you want to get emails, support or donate, you need to visit their site directly and sign up. The group is on Twitter as @FightBack_CO.

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Gay Son Speaks Of Father’s Failed Leadership In Killing Colorado Civil Unions

Jim Burroway

May 16th, 2012

When the Colorado House’s State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee voted on a 5-4 party line vote to kill a civil unions bill, Rep. Don Coram (R-58) acknowledged that his vote to defeat the bill was also a bill against his own gay son. Today, Coram’s son, Dee Coram, has come forward to speak out against his father’s vote:

“He was given an opportunity here to actually be a leader and I guess he didn’t take that leadership role. It’s disappointing to see something like this that he said should have gone to a house floor for a vote. Essentially, he prevented that from happening,” Dee Coram said.

Colorado House in Special Session Kills Civil Unions

Jim Burroway

May 14th, 2012

Photo by Daniel Gonzales. Click to enlarge.

When Republican Colorado House Speaker Frank McNulty declared that the special session called by Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper was a “reset” on the legislation, he wasn’t kidding. Defying the will of the majority in the House, McNulty sent the civil unions bill to House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, despite the bill having passed through three House committees during the legislature’s regular session. But in sending the bill to the third committee, McNulty carefully selected a destination where the bill was sure to die.

And so die it did. The House committe tonight killed the civil unions bill on a straight party-line vote of 5-4. Rep. Don Coram (R-58) felt compelled to vote against his own gay son to kill the bill. That’s how badly House leadership wanted this bill dead.

Update: Daniel Gonzales, who attended the hearing, sends this account:

Rep. Coram had not previously been public about his gay son until his pre-vote remarks when he went public. Also seated next to him was Rep. Lois Court (D-Aurora) who in her pre-vote remarks had to alternate between restraining herself from crying and swearing.

Reps. Don Coram and Lois Court. Photo by Daniel Gonzales

Update: Daniel Gonzales has also posted this video of Rep. Mark Ferrandino’s formal statement to the media following the death of his civil unions bill in The House State, Veterans, and Military affairs Committee tonight.

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Colorado Governor Calls Special Session for Civil Unions

Jim Burroway

May 9th, 2012

Noting the mountain of unfinish business when Colorado House Speaker Ralph McNulty abruptly called a recess to prevent a straight up-or-down vote on a civil unions bill, Governor John Hickenlooper today called for a special legislative session:

“We need to have an open discussion of the issue and at least work toward a final resolution,” Gov. Hickenlooper said. “We (will) allow people a chance to vote on it, and move forward.”

Colorado Republican Leadership Thwarts House Majority, Runs Out the Clock on Civil Unions

Jim Burroway

May 9th, 2012

If you need any more evidence for the irrational and unethical lengths — not to mention the sheer douchebaggery — that anti-gay politicians will go through to thwart the will of the majority, you need look no further than the Colorado House of Representatives’ Speaker, Frank McNulty (R, HD-43, Highlands Ranch), who abruptly called a recess when it became evident that a majority of the House wanted to pass a bill granting civil unions to same-sex couples in Colorado.

To shouts of “same on you,” McNulty allowed some thirty bills to die rather than allow a vote on the measure. The bill had the support of three Republicans who joined Democrats in a house where Republicans hold a slim 33-32 lead. When Democrats used a procedural move to try to and a fillibuster on the bill, Republicans abruptly stopped floor work and called a recess which lasted through midnight, when the House session officially ended.

Among the other bills that died were $20 million worth of water projects around the state and a measure setting standards for driving while under the influence of marijuana. Colorado is a medicinal marijuana state. Which means that same-sex couples with cancer can smoke pot, but they may not be a allowed to bury each other if that cancer proves fatal.

During the recess, opponents and supporters held dueling press conferences on the house floor:

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Jace Woodrum, Deputy Executive Director for One Colorado, spoke to supporters after the session ended.

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What’s Going On With Colorado’s Civil Unions Bill?

Jim Burroway

May 9th, 2012

Tonight is the night. After midnight Mountain Time, the Colorado legislature becomes a pumpkin, killing the proposed Civil Unions bill with it. House Speaker Frank McNulty (R, HD-43, Highlands Ranch)has been trying to run out the clock, but there now seems to be a full-blown rebellion in the House, where Republicans hold a narrow 33-32 lead, but two Republicans have joined the Democratic minority in calling for the Civil Unions bill for a vote. As I write this, it is just a little past 10:00 p.m. McNulty has called a recess at about 8:45 while lawmakers haggle and argue.

BTB’s Daniel Gonzales is at the Capitol now, live-Tweeting the blow-by-blow. You can also follow the hashtag @COLeg.

Colorado House Finance Committee Approves Civil Unions Bill

Jim Burroway

May 4th, 2012

That vote was 7-6, with support from Rep. Don Beezley (R-Broomfield) casting the deciding vote. It faces one more committee vote next week in the House Appropriations Committee, where it will require the support of one more Republican representative  before reaching the House floor for final approval.

It’s a race against the clock, as the legislative session is scheduled to end on Wednesday. There is some concern that Republican House Speaker Frank McNulty may try to run out the clock in scheduling the bill for a vote. According to the Associated Press, he issued a pointed warning from the House Podium “cautioning lawmakers against questioning others’ motives if they don’t like what happens with legislation before the session ends.”

But while Republicans only hold a slim one-vote lead in the House, Breezley now makes two Republicans supporting Civil Unions. Republican Rep. BJ Nikkel cast the deciding vote to advance the civil unions bill in the Colorado House Judiciary Committee yesterday. (Perhaps significantly, neither Republican is running for re-election.) The bill has already been approved by the state Senate, and Democratic Gov. John Hickenloope has voiced his firm support for the bill.

Colorado House Judiciary Committee Advances Civil Unions Act

Jim Burroway

May 4th, 2012

BTB’s Daniel Gonzales live-tweeted this evening’s (May 3) session of the Colorado House Judiciary Committee, which voted 6-5 to advance the Civil Unions Bill. The bill now goes on to the House Finance Committee before reaching the House floor, where it is expected that there is enough GOP support in the Republican-controlled chamber to pass the bill. The Senate passed the bill last week with bipartisan support. Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper has promised to sign the bill if it reaches his desk.

Rep BJ Nikkel (R) listens to testimony during the committee hearing. House sponsor Mark Ferrandino (D) in the foreground. Photo by Dan Gonzales.

Rep BJ Nikkel was swarmed by reporters after providing the swing vote necessary for the committee to pass the bill. In last year's hearing in which the bill died Nikkel had been a "no" vote. Photo by Dan Gonzales.

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