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May 09, 2012 09:15 PM UTC

Civil Unions Post-Mortem Interrupted By Hickenlooper

  • by: Colorado Pols

UPDATE #4: Speaker Frank McNulty responds not too happily, via Out Front Colorado:

“If the governor wants to make this special session about gay marriage, than that’s his prerogative,” McNulty said.

“It is ironic to me that the governor would choose to use his bully pulpit for the purpose of gay marriage but stand on the sidelines when families suffer, when Coloradans continue to look for work and unemployment remains too high,” he said.


UPDATE #3: FOX 31:

A day after Colorado House Republican leaders killed a measure to legalize civil unions, Governor John Hickenlooper on Wednesday called for a special legislative session.

“We need to have an open discussion of the issue and at least work toward a final resolution,” Gov. Hickenlooper said. “We (will) allow people a chance to vote on it, and we move forward.”


UPDATE #2: Gov. John Hickenlooper calls special session on civil unions, as well as other bills that were killed yesterday by the House GOP majority, to begin “Friday or Monday.”


UPDATE: Multiple sources now reporting that Gov. John Hickenlooper will call a special session of the Colorado General Assembly to address civil unions. Press conference imminent.


A few representative news stories today–Durango Herald:

Colorado’s House of Representatives suffered a stunning breakdown of order Tuesday night during a fight over civil unions for gay and lesbian couples…

The Republican leadership, which was using delay tactics to block the civil unions bill from getting a vote, lost control of the chamber when Democrats recruited two dissident Republicans to help them take over the House agenda.

Rather than give it up, Republicans put the chamber into recess at 9 p.m. Speaker of the House Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, returned more than two hours later to tell reporters that the House had reached an impasse.

The Pueblo Chieftain’s Patrick Malone:

“This is unprecedented in the history of the state of Colorado, to mess with the rules and to interrupt the integrity of the House in such a manner,” said Rep. Mark Waller, R-Colorado Springs.

The pause was in response to a power play by Democrats seeking to force a vote on the bill. With a handful of Republicans on board, the numbers were in place to compel a vote.

“We do not want to do anything to harm what this institution stands for, but at the same time, when we look at what we’re seeing from the Republican majority, we are seeing them not willing to stand up and protect the democratic process of allowing every bill to get a vote,” said Ferrandino.

And FOX 31’s Eli Stokols:

House Republicans showed signs of obstruction early on Tuesday, as members of the House Appropriations Committee stalled for hours before hearing Senate Bill 2, which was amended twice before clearing the committee.

An hour later, Democrats were joined by two Republicans, Reps. B.J. Nickel and Don Beezley in blocking the House GOP from beginning debate on a slate of bills before they’d introduced the civil unions bill…

Had Democrats been recognized, their motion would have passed with both Nikkel and Beezley voting in favor of opening debate on the civil union bill.

Instead, the recess lasted the rest of the night.

Our view: this was one of the most self-destructive political mistakes we’ve ever seen committed by any politician in a leadership role. Even if the intention of by House Speaker Frank McNulty and the House GOP majority was always to kill Senate Bill 2, the way McNulty allowed the situation to escalate out of his control, and cause so much collateral damage, was an unprecedented disaster. McNulty made a mockery of a “fair hearing,” and wrecked the defense that Democrats were responsible for this last-minute crisis by holding on to the bill in the Senate. McNulty would have taken a hit from the right for losing when Democrats and dissident Republican had him procedurally outmaneuvered, and they did have him–but not nearly the criticism from all sides he’ll suffer for shutting down the House to prevent this vote.

This time we think there may really be a price, folks. Republicans are going to lose seats in the legislature over this debacle, meaning it’s a good bet we’ll be looking back at this as a major factor in the loss of the GOP’s one-seat House majority in November–perhaps as important as the GOP’s reapportionment defeat itself. And McNulty is the leadership equivalent of a dead man walking now, even in the unlikely event that the GOP keeps the House.

On the upside, Marsha Looper can’t use civil unions against Amy Stephens! But we doubt when this is over that anyone other than Stephens will think this was worth what it’s going to cost.

“Civil unions will pass,” [Coloradans for Freedom spokesman and GOP attorney Mario] Nicolais said. “And so will the Republican House majority.”


50 thoughts on “Civil Unions Post-Mortem Interrupted By Hickenlooper

  1. After two years of people questioning if he has a backbone, I would be thrilled to see him put on his Superman cape and take a stand. This is a great opportunity to build his base within his own party. Call the Governor at (303) 866-2471

    1. can do this, all of the emotion will be put on him instead of McNulty. This could either make him a hero, or further alienate him from the left. If he chooses to be a hero, I’d love to be the first to sing his praises.  

    2. In addition to the money thing, which gives the Republicans cover, (whose emphasizing social issues now?)this won’t work.  If the Republicans went to all this trouble to stop it now, why won’t they just open a special session, assign it to the kill committee and kill it?  The answer is, that they will and this will then become a waste of money issue, rather than where it belongs, the extremism of the “Repbulican” party.

            1. Waiting for the press conference, will promote the first diary to include info from conf (if Guvs don’t post it themselves first)

  2. I posted this last night, but think it deserves a less distracted reading.

    “This seems to be a Bait N Switch by Frank McNulty and Amy Stevens in the House,” the email reads. “Tim Gill really wants this passed, more so than the civil union bill taking up all the attention. (Decoy!)”

    “This will keep Tim Gill happy and all of the gay rights activist who contributed to Amy’s campaign.  This must be why she and Frank were seen gigling in chambers yesterday like school children who knew this big secret,” the email reads.

    The “this” is apparently this,… which according to the history most likely died last night.


  3. In my inbox today

    As you know the Independence Institute stays out of social issues. This allows us to be that connecting place where social conservatives and fiscal conservatives meet on the 99% of stuff we all agree on. That being said, the folks here have some mixed and sometimes passionate reactions to the civil unions bill that died last night on the House floor.

    Our investigative reporter Todd Shepherd is particularly upset. Having completely struck out with one gender, civil unions would have created new hope that someday, someone would finally say “yes.”

      1. That is why, IMHO, he is no longer on KOA at night.

        He gets to compete with baseball on Sunday from 5 to 8.

        You have to be mean, angry, or consistently on message against the dems, to be on the Big Boys shows for any length of time.

        The best that Caldera can do is to be snide, sometimes.

        For example, on student loan interest rates, he said something about students want taxpayers to pay for their good times.

  4. You gotta wonder why someone like McNulty and his fellow GOPers would go to such measures to deny a vote on this bill. Seems like they have an extreme case of overcompensating.

    What are they afraid of?  Besides the mirror, I mean.

    1. that did the Auto loans, against public opinion, got a stimulus passed, against the polls, did Health Care, against the polls, and now this, once again, at a great political risk.

      He’s doing the right thing.

      Watch the drooling, snarling, cynical and hateful flaks from the right go full out on this.

      This is one great man, I’m proud to call him my President.

      Compare him to the feckless, cowering, ever vacillating Romney, who’s actually afraid of his own shadow.

      Who’d you rather have with the nuclear football, the charismatic, gallant, thoughtful, educated, intelligent, and pragmatic President Obama, or a wobbly kneed, weak, shiftless waffler?

      Seems clear to me.

      1. Courageous, well yes. But he’s also got his finger in the air and his eyes on the polls. And both told him it was a position he could take and make it work to his advantage.

        Obama got elected in large part by galvanizing young people to vote for him. Polls have shown younger Americans are overwhelmingly in favor of marriage equality (and marriage equality is around that 50% threshold among all Americans).

        I’m sure an analysis was done of key swing states on the issue and it came out OK.  

        The younger voters who have become somewhat disillusioned lately with Obama because they haven’t seen the “Change you can believe in”, just saw it.

        1. It’s one of the few issues that they feel strongly enough about, that it will get them to the polls. When the candidates argue about jobs many voters don’t know who to believe. But this is very simple – Obama wants to let their friends marry, Romney doesn’t.

        2. Nobody’s a fortune teller, and once again the President’s taking a huge political gamble, and whatever his motives, he’s doing the right thing.

          I’m not arguing with you, as you called this courageous in your post, I’m just saying the President’s risking “being out so far ahead of the Parade, he can’t hear the music.”.

          Or words to that effect.

            1. He’s probably orchestrated the parade to march by at a time it is feasible for him to fall in as Grand Marshall. LBJ and the Civil Rights Act all over again.

            2. by waiting until after the North Carolina vote to state his position.  They can’t accuse him of meddling in state affairs and at the same time it totally overshadows their vote.  Nicely done.


    But Alan Philp, former director of the Colorado Republican Party, said he believes the fallout will actually be against Democrats for pushing a divisive social issue instead of focusing on jobs and the economy.

    He said that’s what happened to Colorado Republicans in 2004 when, with Gill’s help, they lost control of the legislature for the first time since 1962. Republicans won back the House in 2010.

    I recall that many commenters, including some of you who calls yourselves former Republicans, have talked about this kind of wedge issue overreach. Isn’t this the same thing, or do different rules apply to Democrats?

    1. It’s time for the guv to step in.

      You did, of course, see the list of bills that were stranded when McNulty took the ball and went home to pout.

    2. Especially since, arguably, the only real jobs bill this year was killed by McNulty last night, SB 165.

      Maybe Alan can come up with another bill that raises $38 million for jobs and infrastructure development. If not, he should stop trying to spin this.

      The fact that SB 2 and SB 165 are now part of a package just makes your guy look worse.  

    3. And when possible embarrass the GOTP when they are doing the latter and ignoring the former.

      It’s not that divisive in my neighborhood – I don’t think very many of my straight neighbors care very much.  

      Stay on subject –   Saved the auto industry!  birth control! Love of dogs and cars and trees!  Don’t politicize the mission accomplished!   Women get to vote!  Individual healthcare mandate is socialist!  End Save Medicare now!  Market solutions for student loans!  A candidate’s religion doesn’t matter unless he knows Reverend Wright! Borrow money form your parents to start a business!

      Your message machine is very, very strange. GLWT.

    4. There’s Republican support for civil unions as well. The measure would have passed with Republican votes, if only the Republican leadership hadn’t acted in such a shameful and cowardly manner.

    5. where I provided exactly that contemplation.

      However, the governor is apparently going to propose bringing the legislature back in to consider all (or at least most) of the bills that died due to McNulty’s actions last night, some of which are important in their own right.

      Yes, it’s about civil unions, but only because McNulty called a recess when the civil unions bill came up next on the schedule.

    6. use wedge issues for political purposes but brave, heroic and necessary when done by Republicans?


      “Good for me but not for thee”

      Is that your point?

      Are you afraid A-BOT that if Democrats start playing power politics exactly like your tribe, the significant IQ difference between the two groups is going to destroy your dreams of a permanent majority (dictatorship) for Republicans?

    7. When a group wants to stop getting discriminated against, that’s “divisive” and “overreach.”

      Way to lay your cards on the table, Arap.

  6. “Few men of first class ability can afford to let their affairs go to ruin while they fool away their time in Legislatures…But your chattering, one-horse village lawyer likes it, and your solemn ass from the cow countries, who don’t know the Constitution from the Lord’s Prayer, enjoys it, and these you always find in the Assembly; the one gabble, gabble, gabbling threadbare platitudes and ‘give-me-liberty-or give-me-death’ buncombe from morning to night, and the other asleep, with his slab-soled brogans set up like a couple of grave-stones on the top of his desk.”

    – Mark Twain, Letter to Sacramento Daily Union, June 20, 1866  

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