One day after House Republican leadership killed a bill that would have recognized same-sex civil unions in Colorado, supporters of traditional marriage lined up on the west steps of the Capitol to articulate their message that same-sex marriage and civil unions are wrong, and that the only way to halt the “breakdown of marriage” is to elect leaders who support protecting marriage as being between one man and one woman.
The message from the Capitol on Tuesday was based in religious tenets, but it was also a clear response to political efforts by Democrats in the aftermath of the demise of civil unions legislation. House Bill 1006 — introduced in a special session called by Gov. John Hickenlooper to address several pieces of legislation that died on the calendar last week in the waning hours of the regular legislative session — was disposed of on Monday after House Republican leadership assigned it to the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs, the so-called “kill” committee.
A day later, a motley crew of Republicans lined up with supporters at the Capitol to fight back against the opposition and to encourage people to help them maintain their control of the House. One after the other, the GOP leaders called for defense of marriage supporters to also take to the polls so that Republicans could maintain a majority in the Colorado House. They currently have a one-seat razor-thin majority.
“With your help we made the difference this year; with your help we’ll make the difference in November,” said Rep. Jim Kerr, R-Littleton, chairman of the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, where the civil unions bill died. “We have to fight for family values; we have to fight for jobs, and help build back our economy, and we can’t do it alone. We need your help. Thank you for all you’ve done to put us in the majority. Please keep us there,” he implored of the crowd.
House Speaker Frank McNulty R-Highlands Ranch, thanked the crowd for their support, indicating that Republicans will be out in full force this election season as they continue to fight for family values and against those who oppose their efforts.
The rally was a brief respite for McNulty after being surrounded with animosity by detractors in the midst of the civil unions debate. Supporters had accused the Speaker of “hatred” for same-sex couples by blocking floor debate on the legislation. When he took to the microphone outside the Capitol on Tuesday, he was met with thunderous cheers and applause, rather than by boos and hisses he earlier received.
“It does not end here today; it does not end with our work at the state Capitol,” said McNulty, who was interrupted by a few civil unions supporters blowing an air horn and shouting, “Does it feel good to hate?”
“We need to go out and carry our message across the State of Colorado that we will protect families; that we will protect marriage,” continued McNulty.
House Majority Leader Amy Stephens, R-Monument, also carried the torch for the defense of marriage crowd, thanking them for their support and adding, “So many of you have written such wonderful and encouraging words. This has been a tough week, as we all can attest, but your prayers have meant so much.”
Sen. Ted Harvey, R-Highlands Ranch, called on supporters to rally for the defense of marriage cause. He attempted to spark passion for the issue that will continue through the election season.
“Evil prevails when good men sit and do nothing,” he said. “I want to thank you all so much for getting up off your couch and saying, ‘I’m not going to sit and do nothing any longer.’”
“There’s a battle going on for the heart and soul of this country, and it will only be won when the Christian men and women get off the couch and start fighting back,” Harvey continued.
Sen. Scott Renfroe, R-Greeley, also touted a religious message, stating, “Jesus is the answer, not Senate Bill 2.”
And Rep. Chris Holbert, R-Parker, added, “We don’t just say, ‘Let’s pray about it,’ we actually pray.”
Also in attendance at the rally were Reps. Robert Ramirez, R-Westminster, Libby Szabo, R-Arvada, and Carole Murray, R-Castle Rock, as well as Sen. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs.
Ramirez attempted to shift the focus back to jobs and the economy, saying that the mission of the legislature was lost during the session to wedge social issues.
“What did every one of us start this session saying, ‘We’re here for jobs, we’re here for the economy, and we’re here for what needs to be done to make Colorado the best place in the world to live,’” he said.
The Republican lawmakers had the support of local radio personality Dan Caplis, an attorney and pro-life advocate who emceed the afternoon rally. Caplis, along with several other faith-based speakers, encouraged Coloradans who oppose civil unions to take to the polls if they want their voices heard.
Fr. Andrew Kemberling, pastor at Saint Thomas More Catholic Church in Centennial, added, “All we can do is vote. We have the power to vote, so vote your conscience. Vote your conscience to protect your conscience because there are those that want to take this freedom away.”
Pastor Ron Brenning, marriage and family pastor at Grace Chapel in Englewood, said, “I want you to support these legislators, I want you to affirm them, I want you to encourage them, and I want you to vote for them.”
Also joining the rally was Del Phillips, pastor at the House of Worship Center in Denver. Phillips made the argument against same-sex marriage and civil unions, stating, “There are many choices that you and I have in life… gender is not a choice. Gender is a design. We didn’t get to ask the creator what we are going to be. It was given to us as his design. You don’t get to give it back…”
Caplis also encouraged the audience to take up the fight, equating it to a long battle. “This is like a boxing match…” he said. “I used to fight a little bit, and this is like a round that will never end. All we can do is win each and every round that they force us into… Fighting for them, giving what you can to campaigns — that’s what’s going to win this round after round.”
Caplis was careful, however, not to make the issue about Republicans versus Democrats. “This is not a partisan thing, it’s not a Republican, or a Democrat thing, it’s not a Christian thing or a Jewish thing, it’s not a left or right thing. It’s a right or wrong thing.”