UPDATE: FOX 31’s Eli Stokols:
Rep. Don Coram, who cast the deciding vote Monday to kill the revived civil unions bill during this week’s special legislative session, told FOX 31 Denver Wednesday that he stands behind his vote, despite criticism from his gay son…
“If you’re going to lead, you need to sometimes set aside your personal preferences and do what you were sent here to do,” Coram continued. “This situation in my district is very, very clear from the calls I had coming in that this was an issue my district didn’t support.”
But some Democrats have taken issue with his “voting my district” defense, noting that Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, who represents many of the same constituents as Coram, voted in favor of civil unions when it cleared the Senate near the end of the regular legislative session.
9NEWS’ Kevin Torres reports, though most following the story of the killing of civil unions legislation at the hands of Colorado House Republicans are already well aware of this sidebar:
When a Republican representative from Montrose voted against the bill to legalize civil unions for same-sex couples on Monday evening, many people dubbed him the “man who killed it.” After his vote, Rep. Don Coram acknowledged he has a gay son, which prompted his son to question his father’s decision…
For most of his life, Dee Coram ignored his father’s politics and kept his distance. But when the civil unions bill popped up, Dee Coram decided to have a heart-to-heart with his father.
“He did say at that time if it goes to the floor, I will vote no. But at that time his stance was the committee should send it and let the House vote on it,” Dee Coram said… [Pols emphasis]
“He was given an opportunity here to actually be a leader and I guess he didn’t take that leadership role. It’s disappointing to see something like this that he said should have gone to a house floor for a vote. Essentially, he prevented that from happening,” Dee Coram said.
The story from 9NEWS’ Kevin Torres makes it clear that Rep. Don Coram and his openly gay son Dee Coram are still close even after this vote, and that Dee never expected his father to be a “yes” vote on final passage of civil unions. We can see where, under less politically volatile circumstances, Rep. Coram might indeed have agreed with his son that the bill deserved a vote in the full House. But with the issue exploding in the face of Republican House leadership and national media coverage, “politically volatile” became a quaint understatement.
To us, this story once again illustrates the terrible pressure that was put on “reliable” Republicans by their leadership to fall in line and ensure that the civil unions bill died by whatever means necessary. After what happened at the end of the regular session, there was no need for niceties–it’s not like Republicans could look any worse. There’s little question GOP Speaker Frank McNulty had conferred with the Republican members of the House State Affairs Committee prior to assigning the bill there, to ensure that they wouldn’t give him any surprises like Rep. B.J. Nikkel did during the regular session. The reason one is appointed to the State Affairs Committee to begin with is that leadership is confident of their loyalty.
So when the time came, Rep. Coram “did his duty”–when in different circumstances, we can’t help but think in his defense, he might have acted differently? Obviously we don’t know he would have, but the story as told by his son obligates us to leave a small window of doubt.
And if that’s how it all went down, you have to feel kind of sorry for both of them.