Guest Columns

HANCOCK: VICTORY IS NOW WITHIN SIGHT

In a country founded on liberty and justice, how could legislature deny civil unions?

GUEST COLUMNIST

I’m very disappointed that the full House was not provided the opportunity to consider the Civil Unions Act as it’s impossible to miss the winds of change sweeping across America and Colorado in recent weeks.

From the White House to our Statehouse, the clarion call to extend basic civil rights to same-sex couples has never been louder.

President Obama declared his support for gay marriage — a position that has evolved over time — and Gov. Hickenlooper summoned lawmakers back to the Capitol for a special session to address several key issues, including civil unions.

It was just six years ago that the voters of Colorado rejected civil unions. But as the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. said so famously, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

But it doesn’t bend by itself. We cannot and should not wait any longer to eliminate the injustice of denying committed couples the opportunity to strengthen their families. The time is now. The time has come to lift our powerful voices together, to support our gay and lesbian friends, family and colleagues, to fight even harder for these long-overdue rights. Because victory is now within sight.

After watching my brother, Robert, die from AIDS, I know firsthand the importance of being able to make medical decisions for the one you love.

Robert was my biological brother and I loved him deeply. And so did his devoted partner. That’s why it was so unfair that my brother’s partner — Robert’s primary caregiver during those final months, weeks and days — was unable to make decisions about Robert’s care and treatment.

As Mayor, I am committed to ending that type of injustice by delivering a world-class city where everyone matters. Treating people with dignity and respect, fighting for equal rights, and eliminating inequities wherever they exist are guiding principles that I hold sacred and dear.

In a country founded on the premise of liberty and justice for all, it is untenable for Colorado to continue denying the same protections and benefits afforded to other families.

Gov. Hickenlooper courageously gave state lawmakers another chance to do the right thing and give the Civil Unions Act the full hearing it deserves. Thank you Gov. Hickenlooper, and thank you to lawmakers like Rep. Mark Ferrandino and Sen. Pat Steadman who have worked tirelessly to advance this legislation.

When elected officials take the oath of office, we vow to represent all people, not just those who are straight. Together, we must continue the march toward equality and justice for every Coloradan. We must continue to bend the arc of history. We must enact laws that reflect our values. Whether it is tomorrow, next week or next year, equal rights for all will prevail.

Michael Hancock is serving his first term as mayor of Denver.