When Democrats held the majority in the State House, our caucus worked hard to create a more fair and just state for all Coloradoans. As Majority Leader, I was proud to pass a bill to allow for second parent adoption which could include a parent of the same sex. We made great strides as a Democratic majority — listening to our constituents and passing laws to promote equality, such as adding sexual orientation to hate crimes and discrimination in the workplace, extending group benefits to partners of state employees, and giving beneficiary agreements the force of law. Colorado has come so far in so short a time.
Last week, the entire Democratic House caucus was united behind Sen. Pat Steadman’s and Rep. Mark Ferrandino’s SB-1172 — the Civil Union Act. The bill would have ensured hospital visitation rights, and other basic protections for committed couples — gay and straight. The bill represented a pragmatic and historic step forward for fairness and justice in Colorado. Over 70 percent of Coloradoans polled — including over 60 percent of Republicans — were in support of same-sex couples having these basic protections. After its historic passage in the State Senate, the House Judiciary Committee heard over seven hours of moving, passionate testimony from average citizens — everyday Coloradoans who seek simple fairness, justice and equality under the law.
After all of this — a citizenry in favor by a significant majority, individual human stories shared with their legislators, and most importantly, the basic values of fairness and justice that make up the fabric of American society — a party-line vote by Republicans killed the Civil Union Act.
It was a heart-breaking act of pandering to the far right of the Republican Party; simply partisan politics at its worst. This vote was clearly out of touch with the vast majority of their own party yet they sacrificed an opportunity for Coloradoans to come together in a moment of justice and equality on the altar of fear-based politics, ideology and self-interest.
As Rep. Ferrandino put it, after all the hours of testimony, “They looked us in the eye as they voted no.” Indeed, the Republicans looked all of Colorado in the eye and voted no.
The fundamental truth we are facing today is that unless progressives retake the majority in the House, justice will continue to be sacrificed. I’m writing today to ask you to help make a difference — help fight for a House majority.
House Republicans joined arms and stood in the way of equality last week. That won’t change until we change the House — when Democrats take back the majority. The consequences of last November’s losses are being felt today by couples and families across Colorado. To reverse course in 2012, we need to start now by supporting the House Majority Project. The HMP is already working to recruit solid candidates, protect current members, and build the support system our legislative campaigns need to be successful.
Please act today to support a Colorado that is fairer and more just. Thank you for your invaluable support.
Former Majority Leader
Colorado House of Representatives