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Breaking: Colorado House committee kills civil unions bill in special session


By Jacob Combs

By a party-line 5-4 vote, Republican members of the Colorado House of Representatives State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee voted tonight to kill a civil unions bill during a special legislative session.  Although the bill passed three Republican-led committees with bipartisan support and was guaranteed passage in the full House had it been brought up for a vote in the regular session, House Republican leadership ran out the clock on the bill last week, denying a floor vote on it and 37 other bills.  For more about the incredible battle over civil unions last week, check out P8TT’s full coverage here.

Even though Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, a strong supporter of the legislation, called a special session in part so that the civil unions bill could receive a full vote on the House floor, House Speaker Frank McNulty condemned the bill to almost certain failure in the conservative State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee.  Republicans on the committee who opposed the measure frequently described it today as a ‘gay marriage bill,’ rather than the civil unions legislation that it actually was.

Rep. Mark Farrandino, the openly gay Democratic leader in the House and a co-sponsor of the bill, told the AP that he and other advocates remain undeterred:

“If it fails this year, we’re going to work hard to make sure the public understands what happened, the games that were played, and next we’re going to push it again.  And as I’ve said a number of times, it’s not a matter of ‘if,’ it’s a matter of ‘when.’ And the ‘when’ keeps getting sooner and sooner. This will happen.”

Democrats plan to make the Republicans’ obstructionism a center-point of their electoral strategy in the fall.  What has taken place in the last two weeks in Colorado is truly appalling: no bill that enjoys majority support should be forced to pass four different committees, and no bill should be sent to a specific committee as a strategy to kill it off.  We can only hope that this blatant political gamesmanship has some effect on the chamber’s make-up after the November election.


  • 1. EricKoszyk  |  May 14, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    Time to defeat these bigots and elect more Democrats in Colorado come November!

  • 2. bayareajohn  |  May 14, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    As long as the DEMS aren't willing to be as venal, deceitful, and as cutthroat as the GOP, we'll loose the nasty fights. I'm genuinely unsure I want our side to win if it has to mean we need to be more like Gingrich and Fox News to do it.

  • 3. _BK_  |  May 14, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    Just so long as we don't actually lie to the public and mislead everyone like Gingrich and Fox do, right?

  • 4. Larry  |  May 14, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    Why can't Governor Hickenlooper keep calling special sessions until civil unions are voted on? Isn't that what the NY governors did to get same sex marriage voted on there?

  • 5. JefferyK  |  May 14, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    This is what happens when you vote for Republicans.

  • 6. Rich  |  May 15, 2012 at 5:09 am

    So much for the battle cry: Let the voters vote! If the Colorado Republican committee members won't even let the full legislature vote, how does this support the will of the people through their elected leaders?

  • 7. Scott Wooledge  |  May 15, 2012 at 5:12 am

    No. NY's marriage law was voted during the regular session. Last thing, but regular session.

  • 8. Gregory in SLC  |  May 15, 2012 at 5:30 am

    What kind of argument is this to vote against civil unions? Would some conservative please give me a valid reason how my marriage or civil union affects your marriage? There is no reason based on fact….here is further evidence of this…from the AP article:

    Republican Rep. Don Coram, whose son is gay, cited his reasons for voting against the measure while his wife, Dianna Coram, wiped away tears in the audience. Coram said civil unions are too similar to same-sex marriage, which Colorado voters banned in 2006. He blasted Democrats, accusing them of bringing up the issue to try to gain votes.

    "The gay community is being used as a political pawn," he said.

  • 9. Steve  |  May 15, 2012 at 5:56 am

    Republican fascism at its finest

  • 10. Bill S.  |  May 15, 2012 at 6:35 am

    Shiny mirror is shiny.

  • 11. AnonyGrl  |  May 15, 2012 at 6:51 am

    In NY the Governor COULD have called a special session, and was threatening to do so if the Republicans didn't bring it to the floor, which they did at the very tail end of the session.

    In Colorado, the difference is that the Republicans sent it to committee and killed it there. The Governor has no control over that, he demanded that they address the bill, and they did so by sending it to the kill committee. That is, most sadly, their right to do, and Hickenlooper can't call it back from there… I believe it must now be reintroduced and start all over again next session.

  • 12. AnonyGrl  |  May 15, 2012 at 6:52 am

    No, Rep. Coram. The gay community is being abused by you.

  • 13. Larry  |  May 15, 2012 at 6:58 am

    OK, that makes sense. I remember there was a whole thing in NY with Governor Paterson calling them into special session over and over again and threatening to withhold their salary until they voted on the bill, which ultimately failed that time. But I guess killing the bill in committee is different than just ignoring it.

  • 14. jasonjdotbiz  |  May 15, 2012 at 7:46 am

    Extending the legal and civil rights and responsibilities to all Americans is really a non-issue. If you don not agree with marriage equality, don’t marry someone of the same sex! As a school teacher, I don’t ever recall reading/citing the words…”with liberty and justice for ALL” and seeing the word, “except” anywhere. Separate but equal has proven it does not, has not, and should not work! We can not “eenie meenie miney moe” through our neighborhoods and point to who is allowed marriage or not. Shame on the House committee!!!!! jasonjdotbizDOTwordpressDOTcom

  • 15. _BK_  |  May 15, 2012 at 9:57 am

    That man's behavior breaks my heart.

  • 16. Steve  |  May 15, 2012 at 11:32 am

    Bills should never be allowed to be sent to random committee that have nothing whatsoever to do with the issue at hand. What happened there is deeply undemocratic

  • 17. Lymis  |  May 15, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    We need to remember this and point to it whenever people pull out the "Marriage is an overreach, because of all the religious associations. If gay people would only be willing to ask for civil unions instead, there would be no problem" card.

    When we fight for marriage, we sometimes get civil unions as a compromise. When we fight for civil unions, they are always "too much like marriage" and go down in flames.

    I know that it wasn't an option here – but the point stands that the people who say everyone would be fine with civil unions if we'd just drop marriage are full of it.

  • 18. grod  |  May 15, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    When Don Coram cast a deciding committee vote Monday to kill Colorado's civil unions bill, he "let down" a gay community that includes his only child, 44-year-old Dee Coram told The Denver Post. "Yesterday was the first and only time I ever called him and said, "Can you do this?" said. "He said, 'I love you, but absolutely not.' "
    Read more:

  • 19. Gregory in SLC  |  May 16, 2012 at 4:07 am

    TX for article. Glad the grandfather called it right. I see ignorance is alive and thriving in Colorado…based on comments about the article. :-(

  • 20. Prop 8 Trial Tracker &raq&hellip  |  November 7, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    […] for civil unions in the state, which came tantalizingly close to being a reality in May but were killed by McNulty, who did everything in his power to send a civil unions bill to defeat.  Democrats in […]

  • 21. Equality On Trial »&hellip  |  March 12, 2013 at 10:08 am

    […] Republican leadership, however, assigned the bill to a very conservative committee, where it died on a party-line 5-4 […]

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