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May 04, 2012 06:56 AM UTC

House Judiciary Approves Civil Unions

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  • by: AndrewBateman

Rep BJ Nikkel (R – Loveland) provided the necessary final vote to refer SB2 to the Finance Committee moving Senate Bill passed the hurdle where it died last year, and possibly the last major hurdle it had.

After just over an hour of testimony from each side (limited due to the extensive debate on marijuana DUI’s that had preceded it) the committee voted 6-5 to send the legislation, which has already passed the Senate, onto the House Finance Committee where Rep. Kathleen Conti has already expressed a willingness to support the bill and eventually, onto the full House, where passage is similarly assured.

This is a huge win for Sen. Steadman and Rep. Ferrandino who managed to win support of this legislation from the very same committee which killed the bill only a year ago.

So for now, we will wait and see what the rest of the Republican House Caucus does. Will they swing over and support the inevitable passage of the legislation to curry favor from independent voters or continue to placate the slim minority of (almost entirely republican) voters that still wants discrimination?

And finally, will Majority Leader Amy Stevens, faced with a difficult Republican Primary, take the cowards way to victory by not scheduling the bill for a vote in the House? (She is not required to do so) Will the remaining committees pass the legislation in the four remaining days of the legislative session?

Observations from the testimony after the jump…

The Old Supreme Court Chambers were packed with supports.  The was a sort of informal poll taken by the chairman when he asked supports and opponents to each stand in turn to show their opinion. The supporters made up (in my estimation) about 95% of the room and the opponents, who I was able to count, were 13 people.

The testimony in favor of the bill was slpit almost evenly between Democrats who have repeatedly supported gay rights and Republicans like CO College Rebublicans Chairman Troy Ard, who for the second year in a row, implored the GOP members of the committee to move past this issue and vote yes.

Proponent testimony was cut short due to time.

When the opponents turn came up, all of them who wished to testify were able to do so, easily, in the one hour provided to them. And their arguments were limited to the following:

1. Society will crumble if you pass this

2. This is a slippery slope to man marries daughter.

3. This will impede (though they never explained how) on religious freedom, and

4. Being gay is gross and causes aids. (Seriously, I’m not exaggeration)

These opponents were met with fierce cross-examination led by Rep. Pabon, who repeated challenged the witnesses’ assertions. He was backed by Rep. Duran and Rep. Kagan who refused to allow them to get away with ridiculous claims.

In one case, former CU-Colorado Springs Student President David Williams tried to claim that his personal freedoms had been infringed upon when he was “forced” into providing student fee money to a GLBT organization on his campus to to the school’s viewpoint neutrality rules. He neglected to mention that those rule exist because of a Supreme Court ruling in the case of The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin vs Southworth, which mandated that student fee funds must be distributed in a manner free from personal bias. Rep. Duran rightly grilled Mr. Williams, pointing out that in seeking and being elected to the position of Student Body President, he did so with the knowledge that he would have to abide by the school’s rules, just like she and every member of the committee must abide by Colorado’s laws.

Overall, the opposition felt disorganized and incoherent. But that probably had little effect, as their arguments would not have been more credible or logical even if delivered by the most talented orator.

The fact is, the time for discrimination against same-sex couples is ending. The only question is which state will be the last to acknowledge it.

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