Gay Senator to Opponents of Civil Unions: ‘Get Thee To a Nunnery’

Pat Steadman, a gay Colorado state senator, invoked Shakespeare’s Hamlet when debating a civil unions bill on the Senate floor recently. Watch the video below:

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Sen. Steadman is arguing about religious exemptions present in the bill and the nondiscrimination laws that already exist in Colorado. Probably the most iconic comment of the video is this one (around the 1:06 mark):

“What to say to those who claim that religion requires them to discriminate? I’ll tell you what I’d say: Get thee to a nunnery. And live there then. Go live a monastic life, away from modern society, away from the people you can’t see as equals to yourself. Away from the stream of commerce where you may have to serve them, or employ them, or rent banquet halls to them.”

This evolves into a full-blown speech, and it is wonderful:

“Go someplace and be as judgmental as you like. Go inside your church, establish separate water fountains in there if you want. But don’t claim that free exercise of religion requires the state of Colorado to establish separate water fountains for her citizens.”

The anti-gay National Organization for Marriage is reportedly furious with Steadman for “lashing out at people of faith,” but nobody’s really paying attention to them, anyway. The bill passed in the Senate by a bipartisan vote of 21-14.

About Camille Beredjick

Camille is a twentysomething working in the LGBT nonprofit industry. She runs an LGBT news blog at

  • Lurker111

    I’d say he tweaked his opponents by the short hairs. :)

  • Achron Timeless

    God hates this, god hates that, god will send you to hell, god requires you do this other thing… HOW DARE YOU TALK ABOUT MY GOD!

    Err.. what? Why do they always do that? It’s all they want to talk about, so we’re just trying to have a conversation.

  • starskeptic


  • Bob

    Gotta wonder how the people at NOM’s minds think. They spew out all this anti gay bile, and that’s protected speech, but when people call them out for being full of shit, they’re “lashing out at people of faith”. They can dish it out, but they can’t take it.

  • phantomreader42

    Well, if NOM is an accurate representation of “people of faith”, then “people of faith” are worthless pieces of shit who DESERVE to be lashed out at. If NOM does not accurately represent “people of faith”, then NOM is a pack of worthless lying sacks of shit who DESERVE to be lashed out at.

  • Michael

    Either he doesn’t know what Shakespeare was talking about, or he does and just got away with a massive insult aimed at his political opponents.

  • Cary Whitman

    I want to live in Colorado! Darn it! We keep trying to find a way to move there, but just too hard to walk away from a good job right now. :-(

  • Sven2547

    This is the best I’ve ever heard this point described. I’m proud to live in Colorado!

  • Claude


  • chicago dyke

    very nice. will try to remember this guy during reelection season. CO residents, be sure to send him a check.

  • ecolt

    In the Elizabethan era a nunnery was also slang for an insane asylum. Just thought I’d make everyone love this quote even more.

  • Bob

    In Shakespeare’s time the word nunnery, in addition to meaning a convent, was also slang for a brothel. However, when Hamlet tells Ophelia, “Get thee to a nunnery” he most likely means the convent.

  • David Starner

    I think it’s likely that Shakespeare meant both, that the phrase was meant to be constructively ambiguous.

  • Michael

    The chances that Shakespeare wasn’t deliberately using a sexual double entendre is zero. Hamlet is open to debate.

  • Baby_Raptor

    That’s just how it is. The christianists are right, so they’re free to say whatever. But if you say anything back, you’re persecuting them.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Maybe if christianists saved their whining and outrage for the rare occasion when people actually are attacking them, they’d be taken seriously. As is, they’re seen as little more than petulant children. All they do is whine.

  • TicklishMeerkat

    You have to be a religious nut to be anti-gay these days. Everybody else has already gotten their heads wrapped around the idea of gay rights. It’s a no-brainer everywhere else–isn’t it just a little shocking to imagine, in 2013, that we’re even still having an argument about something the rest of the civilized world figured out years ago? But oh no, it’s not settled here, not to religious whackjobs. It seems like human progress is always going to be dragging them along like the dead weight they are. I’m glad that this congressperson is putting words to a feeling that’s been building momentum for a while now. The AFA is upset? Good, let them be. We need them to be downright apoplectic.