Will McNulty (And Stephens) Kill Civil Unions?

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.

[poll id=”1458″]


66 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. BlueCat says:

    having the balls, much less the foresight, to go for those long term dividends. Given the inevitable march of changing demographics, GOP leaders at every level and all over the country seem paralyzed, caught between the immediate need to pander to the shrinking extremist base and the long term need to adapt or die.

  2. nancycronknancycronk says:

    the R votes are just to “look” more moderate, while using a run-out clock as an excuse to keep sucking donations from the base. I really hope I am wrong. Not passing it would be extremely cruel to tens of thousands of good citizens in CO.

    • droll says:

      Why would you think that and what donations? In other states, and in the case of Ref I here, civil unions and the like often pass with bipartisanship support. And often without all Democrats signing on.

      • droll says:

        what could Beezley and Nikkel’s motivation possibly be? They are both leaving, voluntarily, this year. And, afaik, not for anything related to politics.

        But no, they couldn’t possibly just be doing what they feel is right. Of course not. Republicans are the enemy.

        • Gilpin Guy says:

          Duplicity has become the standard for their behavior (see Grand Bargain, Obama) so every action by a Republican carries with it a potential hidden agenda (see Walker Scott).  Until proven otherwise you have to always assume when dealing with a Repubilcan that 1) they are lying to you to your face and 2) they won’t compromise on any issue.  So if you want to take these efforts at face value and chide the rest of us for being cynical go for it.

          • Libertad 2.0 says:

            not everything is a grand scheme concocted by the Elders of Zell Miller.

            Which is more likely:

            A) Beezley and Nikkel aren’t up for re-election and therefore don’t give a rat’s ass about backlash from their base.

            B) Beezley and Nikkel cast their votes as part of a grand conspiracy to (fill in the paranoid blank.)


            1) they are lying to you to your face and 2) they won’t compromise on any issue.

            Is quite possibly the dumbest, most partisan-blinded comment I’ve ever read on this site. Not only are Beezley and Nikkel not “lying”–unless you think they secretly didn’t want to vote the way they did–but they embodied the very definition of compromise on this issue.

        • nancycronknancycronk says:

          But I will use the words “political adversaries”.

      • nancycronknancycronk says:

        Did you forget BJ Nikkel once worked for Marilyn Musgrave?

        All of the talk about polls showing most Coloradans support civil unions has to scare the GOP leadership. Add to that, the many Young Republicans who continue to speak out in favor of this bill. Of course party leaders want to appear like they have an open mind. Of course they want to hold on to any Young Republicans they can. Of course they do not want to appear like they are from the middle ages.

        And yet, their base includes the religious right. How do you keep the checks coming in without further alienating people under 40? Pretend you are moderate, then pull the rug out from under non-partisan legislation at the last minute. Then, go on television and tell them “Hey, it was somehow the Democrats fault we had to do this” (wait that’s still coming). If you can’t predict partisan tricks, Droll, I don’t think you’ve been paying attention closely.

        • droll says:

          How about “bigotry”? That’s you, sweetheart.

          Two pieces of advice to not look crazy and/or stupid: Don’t contradict yourself in a single comment and answer direct questions asked in the post you are replying to.

    • rocco says:

      I fear the right thing to do has nothin’ to do with it.

      In the end, republicans answer to “a higher authority”……..the fringe.

      I believe McNulty sees SB2 as a wedge issue that the reds don’t want right now. A resulting fracturing of the republican constituency that will cost the republicans 9 electorals November 6.

      You cannot underestimate the influence of Focus on the Family and the many other major players/crazies in the evangelical industrial complex.

      They’re a juggernaut, and they can make or break any red.

      Should SB2 pass next week and the Democrats sweep in November, McNulty’s head will be one of many that roll.  

      SB2’s a wedge issue that he figures won’t be an issue in November if he lets it “die a natural death” this week.

      I think he’s wrong.

      But he doesn’t have much time to get it right, and I think he’s not smart enough as well as to weak kneed to take a principled stand and let them vote on it in Assembly.

      I really hope I’m wrong.  

  3. jaytee says:

    but my guess is that running out the clock on such a big bill would be an act of such bad faith and cause such ill will among lawmakers on the right and left that House leadership won’t go there. It reminds me of the last-minute payday loan play last session. Leadership could have pushed that to the hilt but, placed under the spotlight, the better angels prevailed. Even today, there seems to be a way to do these things and booting Nikkel off the Judicial Committee and running out the clock seem to be two ways not to do it– at least not it if you ever expect to work with anyone ever again on anything.

    In any case, it would be a very high-cost short-term strategy. The bill has in effect already passed the legislature in Colorado and, if it doesn’t make it to the guv’s desk this year, it will be back next year and it will pass again.      

  4. Dan WillisDan Willis says:

    That it has been mostly the GOPers who are leaving office and no longer in need of the finge’s support who are now voting Yes.

    Definitely defines “voting you conscience.”  

    • Craig says:

      She’s running for re-election, has an opponent and has the ability to run again.  That’s voting her conscience.

      • Littletonian says:

        Always impressed me when I worked under the Gold Dome. One of those elected officials who always sought her constituents’ opinions on controversial issues and tried to represent their interests as well as she could.

  5. Craig says:

    To the Constitutional Amendment which required there be a vote on all bills?  Does that not appl?  I thought if a bill gets through committee, it has to have an up or down vote?  I thought we did away with the nonsense you are talking about.

    Frankly, I am more optomistic than you all.  If they’d wanted to kill this bill they would have sent it to State Veterans and Military Affairs Committee.  Why would they mess with all this negative publicity?  

  6. ArapaGOPArapaGOP says:

    You didn’t copy this part:

    The gay Denver Democrats, along with the bills supporters and lobbyist, believed having a Republican sponsor the bill would have given the legislation the best chances of passing through three committee hearings and make it to the full floor of the House.

    But McNulty cried foul saying there was no need for it to take this long.

    “I can’t image in it would take him 110 days to figure out where people are on this issue,” McNulty said. “I think people have been pretty crystal clear on where they stand.”

    How could it have possibly taken 110 days to get to the House, if it WASN’T playing politics? Democrats are going to have hard questions for the strategists who decided that was a good idea. Especially after what Democrats did to Republicans in redistricting, you left yourselves with your asses hanging in the breeze.

    You blew it.

    • AristotleAristotle says:

      Playing games is ALL that the GOP does anymore. And if the Dems take a page from your playbook, you have the temerity to cry foul? Gimme a frigging break.

    • Middle of the Road says:

      It’s common practice to find a co-sponsor from the other party in order to increase the chances of a bill passing. And sometimes sponsors will not come on until the 11th hour.

      Case in point, since you seem to suffer from extreme short term memory:

      Until last week when Nikkel in Judiciary and Beezley in Finance cast their votes with Dems, no one, not even in their own Republican Party, knew which way they were going.

      Apparently, McNulty didn’t have a fucking clue what his own people under his own stellar leadership as Speaker were doing. I guess 110 days weren’t quite enough time for him to get his own House, literally, in order.

      McNulty proves himself wrong with his own fellow House members. Their votes prove he is a liar or a fool.

      Which would you prefer he be?

    • cunninjo says:

      That leaves 10 days to get through the House. Why is it being held up? They pass countless bills through in the last few days of session every year. Hell, they could’ve held all three committee hearings on the same day if they wanted. McNulty has no excuse other than playing politics because he knows it will pass.

      They can hold the Approps hearing tomorrow morning, then do 2nd Reading tomorrow afternoon. Then, 3rd Reading on Wednesday.

      P.S. The House has sent at least 13 House Bills (I got tired of counting) to the Senate since receiving SB-2 on April 24th. It took a full week for McNulty to even introduce SB-2 once the Senate passed it.

  7. Gadfly says:

    His excuse that he was talking to potential GOP co-sponsors really makes no sense.  

  8. Mario_Nicolais says:

    It is important to note that Speaker McNulty and Republican leadership have not once committed to killing SB 2 through procedure or running out the clock. In fact, at every turn they have said it deserves a fair process.

    And I haven’t seen any action that makes me think otherwise.

    All guesses and conjectures aside, I haven’t seen anything from Republican leadership that denotes that the bill has been singled out from other bills to die a procedural death.

    I very clearly want to see SB 2 passed and passed now. I have testified twice before legislative committees to that point and would do everything I could to get this passed. If it were up to me, I would fast track the bill in a heartbeat. But that isn’t the regular procedure.

    Luckily, every session ends with a flurry of activity. Many bills fly through the legislature in the closing days in any given year. And that is a regular procedure.

    So I am confident that this bill will make it to the House floor in a timely fashion. Just as any other late bill makes it to the floor, I think this will too. No special treatment, just the regular process being followed.

    The timing is no doubt difficult and brought about by many factors originating from both sides. But in the end I think a full, fair process, even without any special treatment, will see civil unions passed into law this week.

    Until then, I will continue to hope, pray, and repeatedly click “refresh” on Eli Stokols Twitter account.

    Mario Nicolais, Spokesman

    Coloradans for Freedom

    • Dan WillisDan Willis says:

      The fact that is quoted in the press saying he may not have another Approriations meeting this session says a lot.

      He has bills that deserve the hearing. Choosing not to have a hearing lays blame at his feet, but it slosh onto McNulty since he is speaker. Even if has nothing to do with the decision to not have an App meeting, he won’t be able to avoid the shit-splash.

    • ajb says:

      And the Republican Party is on the wrong side of history.

      You’d be amazed at the number of kids out there that have two mommies or two daddies. it only takes one in an entire elementary school to change minds. That’s the present and the future.

      In most races it won’t make a difference. But in some, Republicans will lose enough independents to lose the race. They won’t want to endorse bigotry.  

  9. Half Glass FullHalf Glass Full says:

    Gov. Hickenlooper should absolutely call McNulty’s bluff and call a special session, if McNulty continues to insist there’s not enough time to pass this bill.

    McNulty’s position is a total crock of s*** and he should be ashamed of himself.

    Kudos to those brave Republican House and Senate members who are willing to do the right thing.

    • caroman says:

      Wait a minute….

    • Dan WillisDan Willis says:

      That only serve the GOP. They could then show how Dems waste money that we don’t have.

      At this point the victory goes to the patient. They use procedural shenanigans to defeat Civil Unions this year, we kick their asses in Nov. and pass it without drama next year.

      • droll says:

        or to prove McNulty is playing games?

        Donations? Anyone? It doesn’t seem like too steep a price.

        But it probably won’t happen in any event, so your sensibility and level head prevail… whether the rest of us want it to or not. 😉 Hickenlooper’s spokesman is already backing off it, and, to be fair, Hick’s suggestion did leave room for interpretation.

      • rocco says:

        I listened to caplis from 5:50-to about 5:55 last night, long enough to need a shower anyway, and that is exactly where the reds are going and how they’re framing it.

        caplis took a caller’s lead and basically trotted out the “new” outrage the local party is running with.

        Paraphrasing, “with the economy in as bad a shape as it’s in, when jobs should be a priority, the Governor’s making a Bill about special rights for a minority a big enough issue to call a special session.”.

        The Colorado republicans by and large get their party line out via caplis. While his is a tiny frction of the listening numbers at his time slot, his demographic is a consistent, hard core, older white, right wing leaning, old school conservative and extreme evangelical base that abhores the very idea of anything even remotely resembling any legislation “sanctioning” same sex life decisions.

        But the new twist is subtle, but there.

        Instead of running the same tired fire and brimstone, it’s unholy!!!, an Outrage!!! crap they’ve used before, the republicans are trying to use the end of the Session nearing as a lever, when in fact, the reason it’s a last minute deal to begin with is of McNulty’s making in the first place.

        Just the fact that the republicans are using “the economy” to fight Civil Unions instead of the bullshit “sinfull lifestyle” rhetoric that’s been their Alamo up to now, they’re admitting the majority is against them now.

        But as usual, they’re being nefarious, duplicitous, and disingenuous when being professional lawmakers is what they’re paid to be.

        What’s new?  

  10. LakewoodTodd says:

    It really is remarkable to me how some politicians get stuck in an impenatrable echo chamber.

    Someone has told McNulty, “You can blame this on the Dems, stop this abomination, AND watch the LGBT community abandon the Dems.” The number of reasons why this is echo chamber mania at its worst are multiple but the primary problems are:

    1. LGBT Dems are not going to abandon the party in any significant way. It is becoming more and more clear that their status as full citizens will not be improved by helping the Republicans (even passively).

    2. Only in a game of inside baseball does McNulty’s argument penetrate with any significance. And that’s only if you buy the idea that the Dems waited too long to submit this bill for no good reason. To the supermajority of voters, they will only see the basic fact that the bill could have been passed before end of session if not for Republican leadership.

    3. Even those of us who pay attention to the inside baseball stuff can recognize that the Dems were trying to get cosponsorship before submitting the bill to the House. We can be dismayed at the strategic consequences of this but it is hard to fault them for trying.

    4. And all of this to stop what? The tidal wave of history. (My little sisters – 20 somethings – left their fundamentalist church when the pastor started bearing down on the gay issue. This is just one anecdote but I don’t think it is isolated at all.)

    What is the political calculation? (Because running out the clock is not about prinicples, it is about politics.) The conservative base is more likely to abandon them because a) they feel like their Presidential candidate isn’t a “real” conservative or b) they don’t think their vote will effect the Presidential race. Not because the party had a few defectors on this issue.

    But on the downside, there are a number of demographics who might be impacted by this action – young people, independents who consider themselves committed to common sense justice and fairness, LGBT Republicans who may begin to wonder if they might be better off trying to pitch their tent in the conservative wing of the Democratic party. None of these are necessarily huge demographics but in races where the deciding factor may come down to a small margin, they could make the difference.

    I sure hope I’m wrong and the McNulty’s echo chamber has a few channels to the outside world. But I am feeling less confident.

  11. Libertad 2.0 says:

    are trying to put enough poison pill amendments into the bill that it won’t pass on the floor even if it makes it that far. Using a 1st amendment argument akin to the birth control debate nationally.

    Gerou is expected to vote yes to get it to the floor, but also voted yes on the amendments.

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