McNulty, GOP Backed Into Corner on Civil Unions

UPDATE 11:10PM: House galleries erupt in anger, are reportedly cleared as Speaker Frank McNulty pronounces the death of Senate Bill 2 along with dozens of other bills.


UPDATE 11:00PM: As of this writing, the House is in recess after an hours-long standoff between GOP House leadership and proponents of civil unions legislation. If the House does not reconvene before midnight, Senate Bill 2 along with fully 30 other pieces of legislation will die.


UPDATE 5:15PM: Senate Bill 2 passes House Appropriations Committee on a 7-6 vote with GOP Rep. Cheri Gerou joining Democrats in favor. All eyes turn to the House floor.


UPDATE 11:30AM: Senate Bill 2 is set to debated in the House Appropriations Committee this afternoon. As of this writing, the bill remains on track for passage.


Briefly updating what has become the biggest political story in Colorado, which you’re all following through your choice of social or traditional media–FOX 31’s Chris Jose:

In order to survive, the bill must be heard by a house committee Tuesday … that way the bill could be voted on Wednesday … which is the last day of the legislative session.

A rally for civil unions will take place later Tuesday morning at the state Capitol.

That rally is scheduled for 10 a.m. The idea is to put pressure on state lawmakers to get this bill on the house floor.

It has already cleared some big hurdles, but it appears the Republican majority in the house … is not in any rush to get this done.

AP’s Ivan Moreno restates the GOP’s counterclaim:

“To me the Democrats have done both the proponents of this bill and opponents of this bill a great disservice by politicizing it,” [Speaker Frank McNulty] said. “We all know that it’s a heated public policy issue to begin with and with the Senate Democrats sitting on it for 110 days, they’ve really turned it into a manufactured crisis here at the end of session.”

Rep. Mark Ferrandino, the Democrats’ leader in the House and a gay lawmaker sponsoring the bill there, disagreed with McNulty, saying the reason the bill took so long in the Senate is because supporters were trying to get Republican support. Ferrandino said he tried to persuade a Republican to carry the legislation in the House, and potential supporters said they needed more time.

“The manufactured crisis is one he’s manufacturing,” Ferrandino said of McNulty.

Yesterday, the Denver paper’s editorial board called for a special session of the legislature in the event that Senate Bill 2 does not receive a final vote in the House before the legislative session must end at midnight Wednesday. Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office reportedly answered that this is “premature” to consider, and they expect SB-2 to pass. But Republicans in charge of the process, principally House Speaker Frank McNulty and House Appropriations Committee chair Rep. Jon Becker, are not inspiring confidence that will happen.

Lynn Bartels quotes GOP analyst Katy Atkinson today conceding that this is a “win-win situation” for Democrats, who either get a major legislative victory, or a potent issue for the elections this November. The amount of GOP support that has already been demonstrated for SB-2, reflective of overwhelming public support, severely undermines the credibility of McNulty’s process-based excuses. In short, he’s upset that the bill was timed to actually pass it. To not be ingloriously killed in partisan crossfire like so many other bills this session.

That’s what smart legislators do. They align the stars. They make the intransigent pay a price.

And folks, today is the day when Frank McNulty will show how smart he is.

105 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. droll says:

    “bum rap”

    I wonder what her rationale is?

    • JeffcoBlue says:

      A bullshit rationale?

    • BlueCat says:

      it’s the Dems who are manufacturing the war on women to distract from the economic issues, even though  that’s been huge in the media only because GOP majority legislatures have been relentlessly launching attacks on women and they are economic issues, as well as women’s rights and health issues. So you know where she, a Republican political consultant is coming from. If she’s been consulting the GOP leadership on this situation then she’s pretty much admitting she’s been outplayed.  

  2. harrydoby says:

    I think McNulty will show that he too, as the Arabs demonstrated, has the ability to “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity”

    • AmyCO says:

      so he should do the right thing and move the bill.  

      • harrydoby says:

        You’d think they would make lemonade over this turn of events by coming up with some flowery, statesman-like language claiming that they are taking the high-ground by allowing it to pass.

        But as long as they blame the Dems for forcing them into a no-win situation, they are missing the opportunity to salvage their dignity.

  3. Ralphie says:

    SB2 will be heard in committee today, 1:30.

    • droll says:

      Like just ’cause, or going all the way?

      If you care to guess. I have the niece today and if I start listening I won’t play (she yells), so I’d be very grateful for the insight.

      • Ralphie says:

        Probably won’t be able to listen.

        Gonna miss the hearing on SB155 too.

        You can certainly have it on for background noise while you play with your neice 🙂

        • droll says:

          I did catch SB155 during nap time, she thinks that noise from the laptop should be something we can dance to.

          Did the Senate strike below fix your issue? The League of Women Voters was talking about adding a randomization (specifically with copied ballots) to protect single voters and cutting part of the blackout time after elections. The former of which I thought was the crux of the issue. So I either missed something huge, or you are some degree of unhappy. Having never lived outside of the metro area, accidentally outing myself by ballot had never entered my mind; I defer to your expertise.

          (Everyone else, sorry for the mini-thread jack.)

          • droll says:

            about amendments that Court(?) said didn’t have time to pass.

          • Ralphie says:

            I was fine with it before also.  I think the Clerks need a window that will be free of CORA requests for ballots.

            Some of the activists want the .TIFF files generated directly by some brands of scanner.  They aren’t all going to be happy with photcopied ballots.  As far as my opinion, I don’t particularly want the Clerks giving out TIFFs or any other editable form of image.

            Regarding the 45 day start of the window, that wasn’t just pulled out of the air.  It’s the statutory deadline for sending out military absentee ballots.  So there can be active ballots in the system anytime after that date.

            Did anyone hear 1329 and/or 1267 on the House Floor before adjournment?

  4. DougcoDem says:

    Isn’t it pretty well documented that he is not. What is his motivation to start today?

  5. Fidel's dirt nap says:

    and Colorado moves a little foward, and thus untethers itself from this 1950’s mentality. What will be the backlash (if any) from FoTF, the conservative religiuos groups, and their ilk ?  They certainly ain’t gonna be happy.  Just curious.

    And McNulty is just caught completely flatfooted.  Wait, huh, wha ?

    • Early Worm says:

      Maybe they could work on something that would benefit American families, like affordable health care, quality child care, a living wage, affordable housing?  Or, maybe not.

    • rocco says:

      They’re an absolute titan in Colorado republican politics. Even with the scandals, the very threat that FotF will go after them makes red lawmakers’ knees knock.

      McNulty’s probably been knocked around and slammed against more than a few walls by Daly over Nikkel’s and Beezley’s “defections”, and dollars to Donuts, Perkins from the militant political arm “family research council” has beat him up as well.

      The old gasbag Dobson’s probably even given him a few shots.

      The question going forward, if it does get to the floor, that of reactions, consequences, and pushback, remains to be seen.

      But, no, the evangelical crazies aren’t going to just take it. They’ll use it, with the personhood grift, the imaginary “war on the 2nd Amendment” and the “slutty women that use birth control” angle to rally the lunatic fringe in November.

      What exciting times we live in, when Democrats finally have grown a pair, stirred up the hornets, and we’re actually drawing a distinction between intolerance and decency.  

  6. cunninjo says:

    Considering Majority Leader Stephens has the responsibility of setting the House floor agenda, she’s in a contested primary, and Focus on the Family is just barely outside of her district, wouldn’t it be more politically advantageous for her to not let this bill see a final vote? I don’t know if McNulty can overrule her if she decides not to bring SB-2 up for 2nd Reading today, but wouldn’t it be political suicide for her to let this bill pass knowing that she has the power to stop it?  

  7. cunninjo says:

    The House Appropriations committee has referred a few bills to the House floor that have absolutely no chance of going into law because they have yet to be heard in the Senate yet, meaning it is impossible to pass before tomorrow. Despite this, the Republicans on the committee are clogging up the 2nd Reading calendar for this evening likely in an attempt to run out the clock on SB-2.

  8. Craig says:

    Appropriations is discussing SB 2 Now.

  9. Craig says:

    Proposing Amendments to kill the bill since Senate doesn’t have time to vote.  Looper and Gardner bill.  She mentioned that there is a packet of amendments on the floor.

    Just introduced exemption for religious schools and hospitals.  Right out of national Republican play book.

  10. Craig says:

    Passes 7-6 with Gerou voting yes.

    • LakewoodTodd says:

      poisonous amendments?

      • ohwilleke says:

        and that Gerou and the Democrats are on record as trying to save the bill, rather than kill it, it is pretty clear from context that the passage was clean.

        • Ralphie says:

          It had two poison amendments in it.  One allowed religious schools and hospitals to discriminate against same-sex couples and their children, the other would allow psychiatrists and psychologists to refuse to treat members of same-sex partnerships.

          Ferrandino has the votes to lift the amendments, but many more will come during floor debate.

          I took time off for dinner and lost track of where they are.  Right now, they’re debating the government’s God-given right to feed your kids trans fats.

  11. ohwilleke says:

    to filibuster the bill in committee, even though the bill has the votes in committee and on the House floor.

  12. droll says:

    They are moving and re-moving to proceed out of order to second reading of bills. There’s objection each time and a vote must be taken.

    This House now stands in recess and McNulty, oddly, seems irritated.

    I heard someone call someone on it, so loudly (I’ve got audio on), and he’s grumpy.

  13. droll says:

    Early today I wrote to a friend that while I rarely agree with your policies, I did think you were an honorable man. It’s not the first time I’ve written something like that.

    My bad. You made a liar out of me.

    • droll says:

      tomorrow no longer matters to this bill. Four hours of cookie talk equals “we were debating other things, for reals!”

      • droll says:

        It’s hard to feel bad for her, but, as PCG wrote to me earlier, this is Poe’s Law run amok.

        The email, written by Looper supporter Jen Raiffie, says Stephens has worked out a deal with Speaker Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, and millionaire gay activist Tim Gill, to place the gay rights initiative before voters. The measure, the email says, would remove an amendment in the state Constitution that prohibited legal protections for gays. The amendment was approved by voters in 1992, but was ruled unconstitutional in 1996 by the U.S. Supreme Court.

        The email charges Stephens of dealing to allow the ballot measure to move forward, in exchange for Gill’s good will over House Republicans killing the controversial civil unions bill.

        This lady isn’t kidding. At all. Not even on the being so clueless, she has no shame and argues with no discernible sense of irony.


      • DavidThi808 says:

        Or can they delay so it doesn’t get put before them tonight?

        • droll says:

          This is just leadership putting blame for the delay back to the sponsors. Nothing more, nothing less. And little hope this year.

        • ohwilleke says:

          midnight.  There are quite a few bills left to consider this evening.  

          It isn’t unusual for some of the bills up for second read consideration on the day before the end of the legislative session to fail to come up for a vote by the deadline (indeed, a couple of bills are already scheduled for second read consideration on Wednesday, effectively killing the bills absent supermajorities to suspend the rules).

          Realistically, if 37 out of 65 legislators want SB2 to be considered badly enough, it is going to get considered today, if for no other reason than that the leaders of a caucus that holds a single vote majority can’t afford to piss off five of its thirty-three members (if they choose to be sufficiently offended by that decision for it to matter) and the state’s largest circulation daily newspaper, and expect to retain any kind of leadership role in the legislative party.

          • ohwilleke says:

            that Representative could even vote to depose the GOP leadership at 11:oo p.m., rally the Democrats to vote that person into the Speakership for the last twenty-five hours, and get it considered that way (this has happened a couple of times around the country in the last decade or so, although I sincerely doubt that it will happen today).

    • ohwilleke says:

      A third read vote is basically up or down on the version that emerged from the Committee of the Whole on the second read (i.e. after today’s vote on the bill).

      And, if the leadership wasn’t willing to use scheduling legdermain to prevent the bill from being considered on a second read, it is unlikely to try that trick after it has been passed once and has been given a day’s worth of quite consideration before a second vote on exactly the same legislation.

      Normally, the third read vote is just a formality in the absence of some newly discovered bit of informatioon, and SB2 is unlikely to be an exception to that rule.

  14. droll says:

    It’s an hour later here and the dog is feeling neglected. Worse, I’ve lost my sense of humor.

  15. dwyer says:

    He did not make a definitive statement, but went on and on about important items on the agenda for Wednesday ; civil unions were not important; the Dems had “sat” on the bill until the last minute; etc. etc. etc.

    Caplis was encouraged.

    • ohwilleke says:

      is that if it isn’t voted upon today, Governor Hickenlooper could very easily take a cue from the Denver Post, call a special session on civil unions knowing that a bill with precisely the language of SB2 has the votes to pass both houses, and force the General Assembly to come back with an unlimited amount of time to consider that issue and nothing else.

      Recall that something similar was done on immigration a few years ago.

      How many GOP legislators want to be called to the carpet by a popular Governor to fight a battle that they know they are going to lose in advance during election season (and at a time when many of them need to earn a living during the off season)?  No matter what the issue is, nobody likes a loser.

      • Mr. Toodles says:

        A special session for civil unions would never happen for a couple of reasons. One, it would require Hickenlooper to spend political capital, which won’t happen on this issue. Two,  I don’t care how much support civil unions has,  calling legislators back would bring calls of fiscal irresponsibility.

        I’ll gladly eat crow if I am wrong, but a special session will not happen.

    • AndrewBateman says:

      Crazy, over-the-top marriage limitation.

      See, they had already banned gay marriage in 1996 with a law that said: “Marriages, whether created by common law, contracted, or performed outside of North Carolina, between individuals of the same gender are not valid in North Carolina”

      But in fear that civil unions or domestic partnerships might someday pass like they have in other states, they’ve decided to take it farther with today’s law that says:

      “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State”

      The trouble with that, as Ohio learned a few years ago, is that it may make certain protections, such as property rights, domestic violence laws, etc null and void for everyone except man+woman married couples. That means unmarried straight couples might be out of luck in NC if they ever need the protection of the law, because NC no longer recognizes that they are domestic partners, even if they are unmarried.

      This is going to spell big trouble in the coming year for NC.  

      • ohwilleke says:

        It still recognizes tort actions for alienation of affections (i.e. suing someone who had an affair with your spouse for money damages) and is the source of more of those lawsuits than the rest of the nation combined (although Idaho’s state supreme court) apparently found a back door into authorizing such suits this month.

  16. AndrewBateman says:

    A little glimpse into how the sausage is made.

    A video of a negotiation today between the Speaker and the Minority Leader.  

  17. dwyer says:

    McNulty said that if a Special Session is called, then the whole process with the civil unions bill would have to start all over again with the bill having to go through the whole committee process in both houses.

    Channel Nine at 10pm said that the House was in a recess and it was less and less likely that the bill would be voted on by midnight…which is evidently yet another deadline.

  18. AndrewBateman says:

    5 mins ago, Speaker McNulty tweeted:

    Tomorrow, thousands of Coloradans will wake up still married because of me.

    Also, the House just went back into order. Rep Nikkel is absent.

    They just moved to adjorn. No obections. It’s over.  

  19. d davies denver says:

    This is ridiculous.  I know a number of folks that will be impacted by the loss of the bills that are held hostage.  

    This story is not going to get better for Frank and the GOP, it is only going to get worse.  The rule of hole applies here and they would be smart to put the shovels down.

  20. Half Glass Full says:

    This is a travesty and a disgrace. There are courageous, strong Republicans out there who are joining with Democrats to move civil unions forward. This is the right thing to do. But they have been betrayed by their spineless, cowardly leadership that won’t even allow them – Republicans! – to vote their conscience.

    I hope and pray that Gov. Hickenlooper will do the right thing and, as the Denver Post has recommended, call a special session so that we can have that vote.

    • Dan Willis says:

      Among the 25 bills that died so that McNulty can say he stopped civil unions was:

      the annual Revisor’s Bill which brings statutes into conformity with each other when legislators word things badly.

      and the bill which which set up the standards for review of ballots after an election, an area that is murky at best in current law.

      I hope the Gov. calls a special session for the purpose of allowing ALL remaining bills to get a vote.

  21. MADCO says:

    …all the SB2 proponents that were going to vote R will now reconsider.

    Wonder if both of them will post here.

  22. AndrewBateman says:

    These are the 25 bills that were not handled today in order to prevent Civil Unions from becoming law.

    Many were bad bills, but many were important and necessary.

    We must remind the people of Colorado that the GOP (or at least their leadership) hates gay people so much that they prevented any business from happening to keep them from being recognized and afforded the same rights as the rest of us.

    We must trumpet that message from no til November 6ht.

    And as my final thought for the night I will simply say this:

    When Barak Obama wins Colorado, and our nine electoral votes are the ones that put him over the top. Democrats across the Country can thank Speaker Frank McNulty for giving independents all the info they need about what the GOP really stands for.

  23. Politico1 says:

    This bill will pass, if not next year, then the year after that, or the year after that…McNulty’s on the wrong side of history and will be remembered years from now like people remember George Wallace, if he’s remembered at all…

    All that McNulty has done tonight is to inspire one progressive to work twice as hard to defeat every R in a swing district in the next election, and I know I’m not alone.

  24. ProgressiveCowgirl says:

    62% of Coloradans support civil unions.

    I’d wager close to 100% support democracy.

  25. Awen says:

    And it’s not just about civil unions; it’s that McNulty was willing to sacrifice the hard work of so many people on so many other bills and issues for this.

    The GOP can kiss their leadership of the legislature goodbye for a very long time after this.

    • The realist says:

      It’s as if McNulty et al. – in order to destroy one bill – blew up more than two dozen other bills.  In many (but perhaps not all) instances these bills were the product of many, many hours of work by legislators, legislative staff, executive agency staff, lobbyists, ordinary people who put aside their lives to spend hours at the Capitol testifying, etc, etc.  

      Republican v2012: The gift that keeps on giving.

    • Car 31 says:

      We have seen it all session and this puts a cherry on it – McNulty proved he doesn’t have what it takes to lead the Republican party. Instead of standing on the principles of his base and declaring SB 2 dead, he played games leading to some significant legislation lost (155, 163,  165 (for Pete’s sake)!!!)

      All the R’s who supported this process should be ashamed. They held the state hostage last night and instead of finding their voices they scurried away and hid when the spotlight shone.

      Stick a fork in this guy and his party – they’re done.  

  26. But I figured reactionary right-wingers would figure out a way to kill this somehow.

    Best solution to the problem is still the same as it always was: elect a Democratic majority government.

    • Car 31 says:

      When we had one they couldn’t get civil unions either.  

      • Libertad 2.0 says:

        but do you think the House Dems have learned a lesson after spending the last two sessions in the minority?

        • Car 31 says:

          The pendulum may swing left and there may be some victories with Hick as Gov instead of Ritter, but the tone, style, and overreaching will continue even if the D’s get the majority.

          The shame is that for years now we’ve let the party fringes dictate legislatively. If one party gets the majority, there aren’t many moderates remaining to bring the party to the middle where governing happens. The fringe will dictate the agenda and, I predict, will lose the majority in a few years because the independents will swing back to the right.

          The process is cyclical and with so many legislators leaving this year – the learned lessons are lost on those who are new.  

          • DavidThi808 says:

            Legislators want to believe it was votes for them, not votes against the other side. “I’m right” feels better than “I suck less.”

          • ’cause I’m missing it.

            We lost the majority in the State House by 197 votes in a Republican wave election – I think, by and large, we were doing a darned good job of being responsible government.  I don’t see this as a swing to the right due to policy (unlike, say, Republicans losing the majority last decade…).

            • Car 31 says:

              The D majority under Ritter was ok. They overreached in some instances and Ritter vetoed the bills. An earlier point being they didn’t introduce a civil unions bill, for a variety of reasons.

              No, in the last years, reflecting a national trend in the parties, Colorado partisanship has increased because we’ve had a divided legislature. Both sides were able to throw out fringe bills relying on the other House to kill it.

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