Why Suthers Fought Marriage Equality To The Bitter End

As the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Monica Mondoza reports, the worst-kept secret in El Paso County local politics–with the possible exception of the “Shirtless Sheriff’s” sexual peccadilloes–is finally official: outgoing GOP Attorney General John Suthers is running for mayor of Colorado Springs.

Six months ago, Suthers met with Mayor Steve Bach to let him know that that mayor’s race was on his mind. Bach, elected the city’s first strong mayor in 2010, said in a recent interview that he had not decided whether he will seek re-election.

Suthers said Tuesday that he’s in the race no matter what Bach decides. He grew up in Colorado Springs, he said, and has watched it grow from a city of 40,000 to 440,000. He said loves that he can walk outside his home and be on a hiking trail with 30 minutes, he said.

But, he said, the city is desperate need of what he called “collaborative leadership.”

“I have, as others have, seen the city lose traction,” Suthers said. “We are somewhat stalled.”

As anyone familiar with Colorado’s cultural geography can tell you, Colorado Springs is the capital city of Colorado’s Bible Belt. With the headquarters of Focus on the Family and countless other evangelical Christian organizations either in or near the city, you can hardly throw a rock in the Springs without breaking a stained glass window. This is not to say that there are no godless heathens within the city limits of Colorado Springs; they just don’t usually decide elections.

With that in mind, it makes much better sense that Suthers has defended the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage far longer than attorneys general in other states. In fact, Suthers running for mayor of arch-conservative Colorado Springs is about the only thing that does make sense. The protracted fight over same-sex marriage hasn’t helped fellow Colorado Republicans, who are now strongly in the minority of public opinion. It hasn’t helped Suthers’ nominated successor Cynthia Coffman, who has been campaigning under a cloud on the issue while her Democratic opponent Don Quick hammers away from the moral high ground. And to be honest, this dogmatic last stand over same-sex marriage has marginalized Suthers personally–at least where his political career might once have been on track for higher office.

But mayor of Colorado Springs? Perfect. And good luck keeping the lights on.

28 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. CaninesCanines says:

    Waste our money while you garner some Colorado Springs street cred, why don't ya?!

  2. FrankUnderwood says:

    I thought all those godless heathens in Colo. Spgs. were deported to Manitou Spgs.

  3. mamajama55mamajama55 says:

    Suthers is about 10 years out of date. He has not kept up with changing ideas about same-sex marriage, among moderate unaffiliated and Republican voters.  Perhaps he's a true believer – he may be clinging to conservative Christian ideas about same-sex marriage because those are his values. Or maybe it's pure political opportunism, targeting a place where he is more likely to be elected. Either way, he has, I think, a rude awakening coming up.

    According to recent polling by publicreligion.org:

    Political divisions on the issue of same-sex marriage have widened over time. The gap in support for same-sex marriage between Democrats and Republicans has increased from 21 percentage points in 2003 to 30 points today. In 2003, roughly 4-in-10 Democrats (39%) and political independents (39%) favored same-sex marriage, compared to 18% of Republicans. Currently, nearly two-thirds (64%) of Democrats and nearly 6-in-10 (57%) independents support same-sex marriage, compared to only 34% of Republicans. More than 6-in-10 (62%) Republicans oppose same-sex marriage.

    A recent Colorado PPP poll found 56% support for gay marriage, 36% opposed among all demographics. 66% of Republicans supported at least civil unions, this poll found.

    The thing is, even Colorado's capitol of the Bible Belt, Colorado Springs, has a plurality of independent / unaffiliated voters, 57% of whom support same-sex marriage, and equal treatment of gays in employment, even when religious voters are polled, as by the publicreligion.org poll cited above.  The Springs House Districts 20, 14,15, 16, 17, 18, and 21 all have similar proportions of UAF, REP and DEM voters. Most have 35-40% unaffiliated, about 33% Republican, about 20% Democratic, and the rest third party voters. Suthers may be able to get elected as Mayor if he talks up his "moderate" credentials – but it's unlikely that he'll get any traction at all if he wants to implement discriminatory policies.

    Gordon Klingenschmitt is already finding out that he is  fighting for a lost cause. Public opinion is against his homophobic agenda. Suthers will find out the same thing. All the “family values” talk in the Spring masks their horrific prevalence of domestic violence* and child abuse, their medium-high teen birth rate (13 in 2011), the high proportion of homeless youth (1169  p.154) and the rampant corruption in their local politics.  As those masks slowly start to come off, Suthers will have to decide what his real “family values” are.


    * Colorado Springs has had the reputation of being the domestic violence capitol of Colorado for as long as I can remember.  The emphasis on “keeping the (heterosexual) family together”  , together with the high proportion of military people and low proportion of appropriate services for veterans and their families, probably contributes to this reputation.  I wasn’t able to find any recent data on how the Springs compares to the rest of Colorado on domestic violence arrests.

  4. gaf says:

    To paraphrase that great patriot Donald Rumsfeld, here in Colorado Springs we will go into this election with the candidates we have– not the candidates we want or wish to have at a later time. Commissioner Amy Lathan's pre-announcement yesterday and formal announcement today spurred Suthers to officially jump in today. Incumbent Steve Bach still says he is undecided about running for reelection. Suther's baggage will be viewed with consideration of the alternatives. None of the options are appealing. It is going to be a "lesser of evils" election for me.

  5. It always made sense that Suthers wanted to keep his Republican base happy by trying every delaying tactic available to him in the marriage equality battle. But it wasn't clear why. This is a pretty good "why".

  6. Andrew Carnegie says:

    Here is a wild-ass thought that has not been put forth on ColoradoPols.

    Perhaps Suthers fought the good fight because he felt it was the right thing to do.

    I know this is hard for the Polsters world view, but maybe someone you disagree with is sincere.


    • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

      Here's a not-so-wild-ass thought, WIF

    • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

      he felt it was the right thing to do.

      the right thing to do for whom? …other than himself, of course.

      Tell me again who he was protecting? All those fetuses that won't be conceived by gay couples? Maybe all those hetero couples whose constitutional rights are, nay, whose very existence is, threatened by the existence of gay marriage?

      If that's the best you got, pissant, maybe you should just STFU…


    • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

      I actually said  in my long post above ^^^^^^^ that perhaps Suthers is a true believer, who is acting on his values. However, he is still on the wrong side of history, and ten years out of step with most Coloradans, including Republican and Independent voters.

      The days when we allow a particular religious belief to dictate public policy and deprive a class of people of equal rights are quickly disappearing.

      • Andrew Carnegie says:

        MJ, you did and I appreciate that you allowed that as a possibility.  What I find crazy is that Pols and all others can't let the argument be, we disagree with his decision, but must find something nepharious as to motivation.

        I get progressive orthodoxy does not agree with his position, but I also think unless there is some reason for a different explanation, it may be that he does not share your opinion and acted on his opinion, which he is perfectly entitled to do.

        • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

          We are a cynical bunch here, no doubt. Our anonymous reader IDs  allow  us to vent and be much ruder and meaner than we would face to face.

          In general, recognizing each other's essential humanity is going to be important if we (Americans of whatever political affiliation) ever are to break out of our frozen political discourse. Everyone on here means well, no matter how much we disagree on issues. Even you, if you are a paid commenter, at some level, you must believe that you are doing the right thing in your mostly futile attempts  to show we "libs" the error of our ways.

        • ajb says:

          He's a career politician/government employee. He, like most all career politiicans, will do/say what they think will get them elected. This isn't new. When somebody agrees with you, it's virtuous. When they disagree, it's nefarious. 

          You accuse Dems of this all the time, but now that the shoe is on the other foot, you agrue for virtue. Is there no daylight in there?

          • Diogenesdemar says:

            That line of thinking plays right into that "government is not the solution, government is the problem" meme.  Way to back up good ol' Ronnie Raygun with the progressives' corollary of his numbskull jibberish!!

            Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna' see if I can find a good dilettante oral surgeon — (you know how awful those career people can be)!

        • BlueCatBlueCat says:

          And it doesn't hurt him with the wackos of C Springs either.  Your belief in his pure as the driven snow sincerity, untouched by political ambitions, can't be proved any more than anyone else's speculation on his motivation can be so I suggest you climb down from that high horse before you get a nose bleed. We all know that you wouldn't be at all concerned about negative speculation where any Democratic pol was concerned. Of course, to you that would be the ungrammatical "Democrat pol", right? 

  7. MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

    Ol' Phil's advice on war, convertin' and the dreaded 'gay'…

    "Duck Dynasty" patriarch Phil Robertson put forward a strategy Tuesday for combating militants with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria: "convert them or kill them."

    "I'd much rather have a Bible study with all of them and show them the error of their ways and point them to Jesus Christ … if it's a gunfight and a gunfight alone, if that's what they're looking for, I'm personally ready for either one," Robertson later added.

    "I’m as much of a homophobe as Jesus was"

    ~Phil Robertson on Good Morning 'merica




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