Republicans Block Civil Unions Bill Supported by 72% of Coloradans

One Colorado Calls Republicans Out-of-Touch with Voters

Today, the House Judiciary Committee voted to stop the forward progress of SB-172, the Colorado Civil Union Act, a bill that would have provided committed gay and lesbian couples with critical legal protections, such as the ability to inherit property, to take family leave to care for a partner, to visit a partner in the hospital, and to make medical and end-of-life decisions for a partner.

“Today’s vote was out of touch with everyday Colorado voters. With 72% of Coloradans in support of civil unions, House Republicans are out of the mainstream,” said Brad Clark, Executive Director of One Colorado, a statewide LGBT advocacy organization. “Once again, they have turned their backs on Colorado families and kids.”

According to polls, support for civil unions is high. A February 2011 poll by Public Policy Polling found that 72% of Colorado voters support legal recognition of gay and lesbian couples.

Additionally, a Greenberg Quinlan Rosner poll conducted in 2010 found support for civil unions across political parties and religious affiliations, including 61% of Republicans, 84% of independents, 70% of Catholics, 67% of Protestants, and 55% of “born again Christians.”

“In the past two months, there have been more than 18,000 emails, calls, and postcards to legislators in support of this measure. A coalition of nearly one million Coloradans support this measure. And poll after poll reinforces that Colorado voters support this measure by a wide margin – Democrats and Republicans alike. Today, Republicans were out-of-touch with Colorado voters,” Clark continued.

The Old Supreme Court Chambers, where today’s House Judiciary Committee hearing was held, was filled with bill supporters, several of whom offered compelling testimony.

“For Lisa and me, our present and future is about sharing love, promise, and commitment to one another and to our family. Our ability to take care of and to fully take responsibility for our family is jeopardized because our committed relationship goes unrecognized by the state of Colorado,” said Shawna Kemppainen, a supporter from Colorado Springs whose partner, Lisa Green, suffers from Multiple Sclerosis.

Prior to today’s hearing, hundreds of supporters of civil unions held a rally and called on Republican leadership to give SB-172 a full up-or-down vote in the House. Governor John Hickenlooper’s Chief of Staff, Roxane White, read a letter from the Governor at this event, echoing this call for debate in the entire House.

“Senate Bill 172 deserves to be heard in a fair and open discussion by the full Colorado House of Representatives. We join you in urging the House Judiciary Committee to send the bill to their colleagues for a full House vote,” wrote Governor John Hickenlooper. “We look forward to the day when all Coloradans, regardless of sexual orientation, are afforded the same legal rights as their neighbors, their co-workers, their friends, and their family members.”

The coalition advocating for civil unions includes more than 100 organizations representing nearly 1 million Coloradans. Additionally, more than 160 faith leaders have endorsed the bill. This broad base of support illustrates that civil unions are an important issue not just for gay and lesbian organizations but for communities and leaders of faith, civil rights groups, business leaders, labor organizations, women’s rights groups, and public health organizations.

“This is not the end. We are looking at all options moving forward. We are not turning our backs on Colorado families and kids. And we will win. Whether it’s today or tomorrow or next year or the next – we will win. Gay and lesbian couples in this state will have the full protection under the law,” said Clark.