Colorado Inches Closer to Civil Unions While Christians Cry Intolerance

Colorado lawmakers on Tuesday approved a bill to legalize civil unions for same-sex couples, a historic move that follows years of debate over LGBT rights in the state.

The bill passed in both the Senate and the House, and Gov. John Hickenlooper has said he’ll sign the measure into law. It’s expected to take effect May 1st. A similar bill died last year in the then-Republican-controlled House, but Colorado Democrats made LGBT rights a priority when they regained control of the House in November.

Colorado’s troubled history of LGBT discrimination dates back even further than the previous state legislature, though, making this move all the more significant. According to the Huffington Post:

The vote marks a dramatic political shift in Colorado, a western state with deep conservative roots that has become more moderate over the past decade. In 1992, Colorado voters approved a ban on municipal antidiscrimination laws to protect gays. Four years later, the U.S. Supreme Court said the law, known as Amendment 2, was unconstitutional, but not before some branded Colorado a “hate state.”

And in 2006, voters approved a gay-marriage ban — meaning civil unions are the only option for gay couples in the state for now. That could change with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage bans in the coming months.

Not surprisingly, religious opponents of same-sex unions say their beliefs are being disrespected. The Denver Post reports that Rep. Bob Gardner, the Republican leading the opposition, said the bill “infringes the free exercise of religion and moral conscience.” Commenting subtly on the November elections, another Republican, former House speaker Rep. Frank McNulty, simply said, “Elections have consequences.”

Republicans opposed the bill, saying they would’ve liked to see religious exemptions to provide legal protections for those opposed to civil unions.

“I have long-standing concerns about the way in which religion isn’t tolerated by some down here at the state Capitol,” McNulty said. “I continue to have those concerns.”

Some others didn’t even bother to mask their bigotry:

One of the most vocal opponents of the measure, Rep. Lori Saine, R-Dacono, repeatedly mentioned religious references to civil unions.

“What this bill is about, really, is the Bible. Is it right or wrong?” she said.

Haters aside, Coloradans gay and straight are rightfully thrilled about this huge step toward full equality. As the Supreme Court prepares to decide on the constitutionality of anti-gay-marriage measures like DOMA and Proposition 8, the best might be yet to come.

“This has been a long time coming,” said Jeff Ball, who was at the Capitol on Tuesday with his partner. “We wanted to feel like we’re a part our own state.”

About Camille Beredjick

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

  • intolerant

    I would consider taking their complaints seriously if they ever protested Red Lobster, or the Gap, or the pork section of the grocery store. They have no problem tolerating people who disbelieve the Bible (or parts thereof). They just have a problem with teh gey. That’s not religion. It’s bigotry. They can take that shit out back and pound it, for all I care.

  • karl meyer

    Quite simply, if you don’t agree with SSM then simply check your partner before marrying. It’s a simple process and quite fun. If you’re unsure about which sex your potential partner is then the internet has many pictorial guides to help.

  • CelticWhisper

    “The bill infringes the free exercise of religion and moral conscience.”

    How? How the unholy fuck does it do that?

    Bullshit statements like that continue to betray the real position theists have on this: It’s not enough that you’re free to do as we do. You have to be forced to do as we do whether you want to or not.

    Attention would-be theocrats of CO and the world: Pay special attention to points 2, 3, 5 and 7.

  • TnkAgn

    It’s not that their bible is right or wrong, it’s that the bible is irrelevant to civil unions, and ultimately to state institution of marriage.

  • Baby_Raptor

    If you honestly believe that a perfect stranger’s ability to get married is infringing on your beliefs simply because you think they shouldn’t, you need to get the Fuck over yourself. Letting one specific sect’s religious beliefs dictate how everyone else can live their lives isn’t “tolerance of religion,” and you know it. You just want to cry about how persecuted you are.

    And, no. This has jack shit to do with the bible. Yet again, you’re making something that has nothing to do with you all about yourself. Gays don’t care what you believe or if you approve. We really don’t. Please get this through your heads and stop using us to martyrbate*.

    Please, just stop this crap, if for no other reason than the fact that your constant lies, hatred and whining are driving people away from your god. That’s supposed to matter to you.

    *Martyrbate: A word I made up just now that’s a combination of martyr and masturbate. Probably an insulting term to how the Right loves to jack off to the supposed persecution they undergo constantly.

  • Kengi

    How does the bill infringe the free exercise of religion? God works in mysterious ways. ‘Nuff said…

  • Kengi

    I love how the logic impaired think that having the government force the religious views of one religion on all other religions is, somehow, religious freedom. There are religions which want to perform same sex marriages, but aren’t allowed to because the government forces them to follow Catholic doctrine in a non-Catholic church.

    That’s religious freedom?

  • C Peterson

    Way too narrow. The Bible is irrelevant to any and all matters of public policy. It’s as simple as that. Any effort to tie public policy to the Bible is fundamentally wrong.

  • Baby_Raptor

    It’s religious freedom for the people who already subscribe to the views being forced. And we know that that’s all that matters to the Right…They have several people who openly claim that the First only applies to christianists.

  • TnkAgn

    100% agree. I thought to make that implication, without success.

  • Rich

    Well, if the bible is the bible then she needs to get out of that job, go back home and shut up 1 Timothy 2: 12 “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.”

  • C Peterson

    As a Colorado resident, I have mixed feelings here. I dislike all civil union laws, because they represent a separate but equal philosophy, which I think is always wrong. On the other hand, until our state repairs its Constitution, civil unions are the only legal option. So all I can do is see this as a positive step in the right direction, but hopefully a very short-lived one before same-sex marriage is recognized.

  • Sven2547

    I echo Rich’s sentiment that separate-but-equal is not good enough. At least this is a step in the right direction, even if the result is still unacceptable.

  • greggster

    Infringes the free exercise of religion and moral conscience? Well, their religion infringes on my right to liberty and my pursuit of happiness. We are not a theocracy, we do not make laws from one group’s religious text. Nobody is infringing on their religion or disrespecting it. It’s not about religion not being tolerated at the state capitol, nor about labeling the bible right or wrong. It’s about giving people that love each other all the same rights (hospitals, taxes, inheritance, etc) that straight couples already get. I would actually listen to these people and take more consideration in what they say were they standing up against say…. hunger, liars in politics that take the lord’s name in vain for political purposes, helping the poor, gun violence….. You know, seemingly Christlike things. Now more than ever, there is a difference between “Christian” and Christ-like”.

  • greggster

    You are awesome…..

  • greggster

    I agree. It IS separate but equal. But it is also a step…

  • greggster

    I applaud your new word.

  • Edmond

    I agree. As a gay man, I’m not in support of civil unions or domestic partnerships, but they do serve as intermittent steps to full equality. I live in Washington State, and we had DP’s for 5 years until switching to full marriage equality last year (and we like to think of Colorado as a “sister” state in marijuana legalization as well). Although they perpetuate a “separate but equal” policy, there’s no question that they also soften the stance of (some of) those opposed to marriage equality, or those who are undecided, by letting them see that we live just as they do.
    What’s great is that opponents of same-sex marriage equality will usually oppose civil unions as being a “gateway” to full marriage rights, and they’re 100% correct.

  • WallofSleep

    Martyrbate? Oh, I am so stealing that.

  • Adam Patrick

    They have a different idea of freedom. To them, it means “free to do what we think you should do”

  • WallofSleep

    “I have long-standing concerns about the way in which religion isn’t tolerated by some down here at the state Capitol,”

    Tough shit, jack ass. Better get used to it, your position of christian privilege is slipping away.

    BTW, it’s not your religion that isn’t being tolerated, it’s your bigotry. There’s a difference.

  • WallofSleep

    Heh. So much for their “judeo-christian” values.

  • Anon

    “What this bill is about, really, is the Bible. Is it right or wrong?”

    Well that’s an interesting question.

    It was wrong about slavery

    It was wrong about black rights

    It was wrong about interracial marriage

    It was wrong about women’s rights

    So let’s put it this way. So far the Bible has been wrong on just about every major civil rights movement.

  • Rich

    i say this to every militant female religious nut job. It seems to stop them in their tracks.

  • Anna

    “Martyrbate,” I love it!

  • Troglodyke

    I want the whole enchilada, but I live in GA so it will happen for me when pigs fly.

    I’d gladly take a civil union in the meantime.

  • drakvl

    How dare they show that picture? Disgusting!

    Such a flagrant appeal to sentimentality has no place in legislation reporting. Stories about House bills shouldn’t make me go “D’aaaaw!”

    (Sorry. My sense of humor gets — weird, sometimes.

  • MD

    I recommend a “test drive” as well.

  • AxeGrrl

    I love how the logic impaired think that having the government force the religious views of one religion on all other religions is, somehow, religious freedom.