UPDATE #2: House Speaker Frank McNulty floats trial blame-game balloons in an interview with LGBT publication Out Front Colorado today:
“Frankly, the supporters of Senate Bill 2 should be the ones most angry about the Senate Democrats for playing politics with their lives,” [McNulty] said during an interview with Out Front Colorado…
“I certainly understand why the attention is focus is on this bill,” McNulty said. “I appreciate why the attention is focused on this bill. But that means it’s even more important that we respect the proponents of the bill and the opponents of this bill. So offering that level of respect to both sides of this debate is one of the important things at this point.”
When asked how opponents have not been respected after the bill has had five hearings, McNulty – not answering the question directly – said: “Forcing this issue in the waining days of session is one of the ways the Democrats are playing politics with it. And that’s the unfortunate part. The Democrats are playing politics with people who they say they’re trying to respect and advance. And on that level, the Democrats should really be ashamed.”
UPDATE: FOX 31’s Eli Stokols:
If House Republicans allow the bill to clear the final three legislative hurdles – a vote before the House Appropriations Committee and then second- and third-reading votes before the full House – the story will be that of a shift in the GOP, of a growing number of conservatives recognizing the public’s wide acceptance of granting equal legal rights to gay and lesbian couples.
But if House Republicans run out the clock on Senate Bill 2 by delaying the final hearing and initial floor vote, which must take place by Tuesday, the story will be that of a stubborn House Majority, unwilling to bend to its more moderate members – 46 percent of those polled at the GOP’s state assembly last month indicated their support for civil unions – when met with pressure from a vocal conservative base, threatening lawmakers with primary challenges should they stray too far from traditional conservative values.
Lynn Bartels of the Denver paper reports this morning of GOP House Speaker Frank McNulty raising the possibility that Senate Bill 2, the civil unions legislation now on the brink of becoming law, will not be brought up for debate tomorrow in the full House after its expected passage in the House Appropriations Committee. GOP Rep. Cheri Gerou of Evergreen has pledged to support the bill there, and the number of House Republicans who have already voted yes on SB-2 in committee guarantees the bill’s passage–if the bill gets its initial approval tomorrow in time for final approval before midnight Wednesday.
But if the Republican House leadership does not allow that, the bill will die.
It goes without saying at this point that the political stakes are very, very high this morning, and the complexity of the different interests supporting and opposing this bill within the Colorado GOP represent a powderkeg the likes of which are rarely encountered. If Speaker McNulty expedites the bill, he may do so at the expense of his Majority Leader, Amy Stephens. But letting this legislation pass might pay political dividends in the long term for the GOP that McNulty can appreciate even as a personal opponent of civil unions.
We can’t predict the outcome of this one, so we invite you to fill out our poll.