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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. She’ll probably be in touch with some follow up questions to gather your story and help tell it.
Couple recognition, state by state
December 1st, 2010
Upon the governor’s signature, Illinois will become the second state that is currently offering civil unions to same-sex couples. The status of the various recognition mechanisms is as follows:
Marriage on the same terms as heterosexual marriage – 5.1% of US Population:
District of Columbia
Civil Unions – a rights except the name – 7.1% of US Population:
Domestic Partnerships will all the rights except the name – 16.3% of US Population
Limited recognition of same-sex couples – 6.2% of US Population
Hawaii – Reciprocal Benefits
Colorado – Reciprocal Benefits
Wisconsin – Domestic Partnerships
Maine – Domestic Partnerships
Maryland – Domestic Partnerships
In addition, the states of Maryland and New York (6.4% of US Population) will give full recognition to same-sex marriages conducted where legal. Rhode Island may possibly do so also (it’s a bit uncertain) and offers unregistered Domestic Partnerships with a scant handful of rights.
Also, there are dozens of cities offer some form of recognition and protection for same-sex couples.
Colorado school forces gay marriage supporter to change her shirt
November 4th, 2010
Falcon High School in Falcon, Colorado, has a student dress code:
The Board recognizes that students have a right to express themselves through dress and personal appearance; however, students shall not wear apparel that is deemed disruptive or potentially disruptive to the classroom environment or to the maintenance of a safe and orderly school.
The school even provides specifics on forbidden clothing. The first five rules relate to revealing items, but the sixth category addresses expression:
6. Any clothing, paraphernalia, grooming, jewelry, hair coloring, accessories, or body adornments that are or contain any advertisement, symbols, words, slogans, patches, or pictures that:
* Refer to drugs, tobacco, alcohol, or weapons.
* Are of a sexual nature.
* By virtue of color, arrangement, trademark, or other attribute, denote membership in gangs that advocate drug use, violence, or disruptive behavior.
* Are obscene, profane, vulgar, lewd, or legally libelous.
* Threaten the safety or welfare of any person.
* Promote any activity prohibited by the student code of conduct.
* Create a safety hazard for the student or others.
*Otherwise disrupt the teaching-learning process.
These seem clear. However, when Kate Cohn wore a shirt to school which said “[marriage is so gay]“, the principle made her remove it, insisting it was in violation to the school policy. (KKTV)
“Our district does have a dress code policy, all the students are aware of it,” said District 49 spokesperson Stephanie Meredith. According to Meredith, the school’s principal acted within the parameters of the school dress code, which gives an administrator room to decide when a line has been crossed.
“If it’s obscene, lewd, or anything that might be disruptive to the educational environment,” Meredith said, “Those are things where a judgment call might come into play.”
Cohn’s pro-gay-marriage message is not obscene or lewd. Which must mean that Principal
Greg Moles Mike Carara finds this message to “disrupt the teaching-learning process.”
I wonder exactly what teaching and learning
Moles Carara doesn’t want disrupted by Cohn’s support for her gay friends and family.
Co Senate Candidate: “You Have A Choice” To Be Gay; Focus Agrees
October 19th, 2010
The Colorado Republican Candidate for U.S. Senate, Ken Buck, said in an interview on Meet the Press Sunday that he thought being gay was a “choice”:
“You can choose who your partner is. You don’t think it’s something that’s determined at birth?” host David Gregory asked. “I think that birth has an influence on it like alcoholism and some other things but I think that basically you have a choice.”
Focus On the Family’s Jeff Johnston defended Buck’s comment:
Jeff Johnston, Focus on the Family social policy analyst, said Monday, “Alcohol affects your whole body, and so does sexual behavior. The highly addictive (aspect of both) is an apt comparison.”
CO Supreme Court gets lesbian jurist
September 9th, 2010
Monica Marquez is the first Latina and the first openly gay jurist on the state’s high court.
Marquez was named by Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter on Wednesday to fill a vacancy on the court. Marquez is currently deputy Colorado attorney general and is past president of the Colorado Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender Bar Association.
An appointment like this means more than just inclusion. As we have seen over and over, the better you know gay people, the more likely you are to see them as part of the fabric of society and the less likely you are to harbor animus and bias.
Having an openly gay member of the Colorado Supreme Court can provide tremendous influence on decisions. No longer are gay folk “out there somewhere” but instead there is a real live colleague looking at you as you ponder how “any person” and “all men” constitutional provisions apply to gay people.
Prop 8 Rallies Planned
August 4th, 2010
As Timothy mentioned yesterday afternoon, we received word that a decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger is expected this afternoon between 1:00 and 3:00 pm (PDT). Already, Prop 8 supporters have already filed a request for stay of judgment pending appeal, in case Judge Walker strikes down Prop 8. If granted, this would prevent any marriages taking until the Court of Appeals hears the case.
Meanwhile, a large number of rallies are planned in California and across the U.S., forty so far and counting. Rex Wockner is keeping up to date with the latest additions.
Some Hallelujah testimony from Durango, CO
July 26th, 2010
This is a letter to the editor in the Durango Herald which just speaks for itself:
The 4 Corners Pride Festival held June 26 at Rotary Park was far more successful than anyone could imagine. God used the park and pride event for his silent pulpit to touch all who attended.
Unknown to the attendees, everyone received a blessing and permanently was touched by God’s Holy Spirit. This included straight and homosexual people.
While the pride fest participants were indulging in their prefest party at the Lost Dog Bar & Lounge on the evening of June 25, a group of dedicated Christians met at Rotary Park for prayer and physical anointing of the park with God’s holy oil. The oil has extreme spiritual power to overcome Satan’s grip on those who are not Christians. Because of this, the Holy Spirit will remain with each individual as long as believing Christians continue to keep it activated with prayer.
Escape from homosexuality is possible with God’s help. The Wednesday evening prayer chain for salvation is still alive and active. It was established to bring homosexuals to Jesus for eternal salvation and for deliverance from their lifestyle.
Any individual or community that continues to accept and condone homosexuality is going against God’s teachings and will suffer severe consequences. This is explained in the King James Bible, which accurately has predicted mankind’s future for more than 2,000 years.
Everyone is welcome to join the prayer chain by simply asking Jesus to include you in the many prayers going to God on Wednesday evenings.
Vi McCoy, Durango
Let’s just say that Vi doesn’t speak for all Christians. Or most Christians. Or anyone with even the vaguest knowledge of either history or the King James Version of the Bible. Or for King James. Or anyone with a high school education. Or anyone whose TV gets the History Channel. Or for the prayer-chain members in Durango. Well… maybe for the prayer-chain members in Durango.
Nearly half of all Americans live where there is some recognition of same-sex couples
March 3rd, 2010
About 5.1% of Americans (15.5 million) live in areas in which same-sex marriages are legal and equal to opposite-sex marriages: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, and the District of Columbia.
Another 58.4 million (19.2%) live in states which have either civil unions or domestic partnerships that offer all the rights and protections of marriage without the name: California, New Jersey, Oregon, Nevada, and Washington. To that we can add two more states (New York and Maryland) in which the local state government will honor marriage occurring elsewhere and we have a total of 32.6% of Americans living with the rights and responsibilities of marriage available to their family.
There are also five states which recognize same-sex couples and offer them limited itemized rights. They are Hawaii, Colorado, Wisconsin, Maine, and Rhode Island and they add an additional 14.2 million Americans (4.7%).
But recognition does not stop there. There are dozens more counties and cities who provide what local recognition and benefits as they can, adding another 14.2 million local residents (4.7% of Americans) who can appreciate that their city officials see them as a couple. Local municipalities include the populations of Salt Lake City, UT; Phoeniz AZ; Tuscon AZ; Duluth, MN; Minneapolis, MN; St. Paul, MN; Lawrence, KS; Columbia, MO; Kansas City, MO; St. Lewis, MO; Ann Arbor, MI; Cook County, IL (Chicago); Urbana, IL; Cleveland, OH; Cleveland Heights, OH; Toledo, OH; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Harrisburg, PA; El Paso, TX; Travis County, TX (Austin); Eureka Springs, AK; New Orleans, LA; Carrboro, NC; Chapel Hill, NC; Clarke County, GA (Athens); Fulton County, GA (Atlanta); Broward County, FL (Fort Lauderdale); Key West, FL; Miami-Dade County, FL; and West Palm Beach, FL.
In total about 140 million Americans – about 46% of the nation’s population – live where there is some form of official notice of same-sex couples. So NOM can proclaim “victory” when they have an election in California or Maine, but this ball is rolling and the momentum is in the direction of recognition.
Sunday Driver: Thoughts on Getting Married
September 6th, 2009
As I write this, my partner Michael and I are on vacation in Winter Park, Colorado. One of my closest friends from New York City is getting married and we’ve flown in a few days before the wedding. It’s been a year since either of us has had any real time off, and despite the fact that I haven’t been able to stop myself from checking my work e-mail, it’s been a nice break.
The wedding on Sunday will be the first I’ve attended since Mike and I got engaged a few months ago, which has made me look at all the events with an eye toward our own ceremony. I take note of what I think would fit and what wouldn’t. Many of the rituals don’t — my dad, for instance, is not giving me away. So we’ve had to make up a lot as we’ve gone along; I think that suits us.
We planned the proposal together, chose matching Tiffany wedding bands and bought them, decided to go to Mario Batali’s Del Posto for dinner. As we walked over to the West Side for dinner, we stopped at Madison Square Park. We sat on a bench, and as people walked by with their dogs and children, we exchanged the rings in a place we had been many times before.
For a number of reasons, I never thought I’d get married. My experiences in reorientation therapy with Dr. Joseph Nicolosi had convinced me at a young age that being gay would mean being alone — gay relationships didn’t last. I believed that long after I gave up on therapy. But even after I disabused myself of that toxic notion, I had never met anyone I thought I could be with indefinitely.
I met Mike at a party and was dating someone else at the time. After we friended each other on Facebook, I asked him to dinner, which I knew was playing with fire. I told myself that it was just a friendly meeting, but none of my friends failed to point out that I was not telling my partner at the time. I said I did not want to upset him unnecessarily, but even I didn’t fully buy my own story. Shortly after we had dinner, my ex and I broke up, for a number of reasons, and Mike and I were dating within a few weeks.
We’ve been together for nearly two years and decided to get engaged before I left New York to work at the Prospect in Washington, DC. The thought of getting married still scares me. Walking down Fifth Avenue after having bought the ring, I remember thinking, “This isn’t just talk anymore.” It was a serious, adult thing to do, and it made me a bit nostalgic for single life, which was lonely but always infused with a sense of possibility. When I first moved to New York, I knew no one and spent much of my free time wandering the city alone, walking home from work in the World Financial Center, or back and forth across the island, or in the park. Sometimes I miss that solitude, but I forget why I miss it when Mike is off in Boston from Monday to Thursday for work.
Marriage also scares me less when I think of the fact that I can still be myself in it; I don’t have to do any last-minute repairs to make myself “ready.” And it doesn’t mean everything will be perfect. In a way, it won’t change anything. Mike and I will still love each other, still share our thoughts and feelings. We’ll fight, too. The fact that it won’t change much in our day-to-day begs the question, Why get married? We would still be together even if Connecticut and Massachusetts were not a train ride away, and even if both DC and New York did not recognized gay marriage. But our relationship doesn’t exist in a vacuum; we share it with our friends, co-workers and, in my case, I share it with readers. It is as much a public partnership as a private relationship, which is why having it acknowledged from the outside is important.
This morning, Mike and I drove into downtown Winter Park (if you can call it that) and had brunch outside. I rarely remember the things we talk about, but I do hold on to the profound feeling of well-being, and remember how the midday light shone off the glass table. It’s then when I think marriage won’t change a thing. But when I’m at a social event and someone asks me about the ring, or when I have to take a flight on my own and worry about who will take care of him if the plane goes down, I realize: maybe marriage does change everything.
Colorado State Employees Get Domestic Partner Benefits
May 21st, 2009
Gov. Bill Ritter this week quietly signed into law a bill that will allow gay and lesbian state employees to share benefits with their partners in the way married couples already can.
No wonder Dr. James Dobson is so discouraged. Right in his own (adopted) home state.
New Hampshire Would be the Sixth What, Exactly?
May 8th, 2009
New Hampshire could be the sixth gay marriage something-or-other, but finding the language to fit is not a straight-forward task. Considering the methods by which states have reached (and retreated from) marriage rights, putting them in order depends on what one is measuring.
The order in which states have granted recognition to same sex couples
1. District of Columbia 1992 (blocked by Congress until 2002)
2. Hawaii 1997
3. California 1999
4. Vermont 1999
5. Connecticut 2005
6. New Jersey 2004
7. Maine 2004
8. New Hampshire 2007
9. Washington 2007
10. Oregon 2007
11. Maryland 2008
12. Iowa 2009
13. Colorado 2009
The order in which courts have found that states must provide marriage and/or all its rights and benefits to same-sex couples:
1. Hawaii 1993/1997 (reversed by Constitutional amendment)
2. Vermont 1999
3. Massachusetts 2003
4. New Jersey 2006
5. California 2008 (perhaps reversed by Constitutional amendment)
6. Connecticut 2008
7. Iowa 2009
The order in which states provided virtually all of the same benefits as marriage
1. Vermont 1999
2. California 2003 (with subsequent minor adjustments to fix differences)
3. Massachusetts 2003
4. Connecticut 2005
5. District of Columbia 2006 (with adjustment in 2008)
6. New Jersey 2006
7. New Hampshire 2007
8. Oregon 2007
9. Washington 2009
10. Maine 2009
The order in which legal marriages were first performed
1. Massachusetts – 5/17/2004
2. Iowa – 8/31/2007 (only one)
3. California – 6/16/2008
4. Connecticut – 11/4/2008
5. Vermont – 9/1/2009 (Scheduled)
6. Maine – around 9/14/2009 (Scheduled)
The order in which continuous legal marriages began to be offered
1. Massachusetts – 5/17/2004
2. Connecticut – 11/4/2008
3. Iowa – 4/27/09
4. Vermont – 9/1/2009 (Scheduled)
5. Maine – around 9/14/2009 (Scheduled)
And should New Hampshire’s bill be signed, it will be sixth.
The Current Status of Marriage Equality – 5/5/09
May 5th, 2009
With marriage equality issues changing so very quickly, here’s where the current status stands (my apologies for any inaccuracies):
California – the State Supreme Court has until June 6 to announce whether Proposition 8 is constitutional and, if so, what impact it has on the 18,000 same-sex couples who married between June and November 2008. There are mixed opinions on what the court will decide.
Colorado – The legislature passed a Designated Beneficiary Agreement Act, which has been signed by the Governor.
Illinois – a bill has been introduced to enact Civil Unions. The bill is currently waiting for a House vote.
Maine – The House and the Senate have both passed a marriage bill. Tomorrow it goes before the Senate for final approval and then to Gov. John Baldacci, who is “keeping an open mind”. Anti-Gays will immediately seek a “People’s Veto”, a process by which an enacted bill can be placed before the voters for an up or down vote. They would need about 55,000 valid signatures by the first of September. It would be led by Michael Heath who has established his reputation in Maine as an extremist and a homophobe.
Nevada – The Senate passed a bill to provide Domestic Partnerships with all the rights and obligations of marriage. It will go before the Assembly Judiciary on Friday. The Governor has promised to veto the bill but some sources say that there will be a compromise crafted before the legislature disbands in a month.
New Hampshire – The House and Senate have both passed a marriage bill. The Senate version had specific religious protections that were not in the House bill. The House Judiciary has approved the changes and they will go before a House vote tomorrow. The Governor has stated that he is opposed to gay marriage in the past but has not addresses this specific bill.
New York – A marriage bill has been introduced in the house. Log Cabin Republicans announced that they have found additional Republican support in the House for marriage. Senate Majority Leader Smith will not bring marriage to a vote in the Senate until adequate votes will assure its passage, which probably means that four to six Republicans will need to be convinced. Empire State Pride is doing polling in Republican districts and seeking to give them assurance that a vote for equality will not result in an election defeat.
Washington - a bill to upgrade the state’s Domestic Partnerships to provide all the rights and obligations of marriage has passed the Senate and House with large margins and will be signed by the Governor. A petition has been filed to put it to the voters.
District of Columbia – the Council voted to recognize out of state marriages. This bill will be signed by the Mayor and then Congress has 30 days to review and possibly overturn it by a majority vote in both houses and the signature of the President. A same-sex marriage bill is expected later this year.