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GUEST COLUMN: Clearing up the smokescreen surrounding the civil unions bill

May 17, 2012

More than 70,000 postcards opposing the Colorado Civil Union Act, SB12-002, were delivered to the Capitol. The sharp opposition and support for this bill was further felt by the thousands of phone calls and emails that poured into my office and that of my colleagues.

Let’s be very clear about the timing of this bill; Senate Democrats sat on this bill for 112 days and then lobbed it over to the House knowing that the liberal media would incite a frenzied push to approve it. All this to the detriment of bills addressing jobs, education and infrastructure that is important to the well-being of our state.

To be sure this is a very difficult and emotional subject. We, as a society, are torn and conflicted by how to grapple with these issues personally and it is clearly evidenced in our political process.

As a wife, mother, citizen and legislator, I oppose this bill and any future attempt to undermine one-man, one-woman marriage in this state for several reasons. First, as we’ve seen in many states, a vote for civil unions is a vote for judicial chaos. Civil unions are a legal stepping stone to usher in same-sex marriage, regardless of established, contradicting state laws. We will likely see what happened in California, take place here in Colorado with our own marriage amendment, which was passed in 2006. Activists in California filed suit against its marriage amendment based on the state’s domestic partnership law, a law similar to Colorado’s proposed civil union bill. A federal judge then struck down the amendment and declared same-sex marriage to be legal — despite overwhelming voter approval for the marriage amendment.

To date, it has cost more than $10 million to defend California’s state marriage amendment in court — money Colorado does not have to spend. So who will be stuck with the bill?

Taxpayers, of course which includes small business, corporations and citizens.

To me, the crux of this issue comes down not to what I stand against, but to what I stand for. The people of Colorado spoke in 2006. If proponents of SB-002 want to take this issue to the ballot — rather than use the Legislature to circumvent the will of the people, then they should do so. However, having watched judicial chaos ensue in other states — to me this is also about the welfare of future generations, right of conscience and religious freedom in society.

Certainly, we want to help all parents in every family structure to succeed. This is why Colorado already has laws giving rights to unmarried couples through Designated Beneficiaries and Second Parent Adoption. The rights and responsibilities in these two laws cover nearly everything in civil union laws. The public was told as much in 2008 by Sen. Steadman who ran the former legislation and now proposes the CU law.

Clearly, the political goal is same-sex marriage.

Governor Hickenlooper’s decision to call a special session this week was not for the “extraordinary” reason of jobs and the economy — that could have easily been taken care of the last day of session. This was for the sole purpose of dealing with civil unions. As a swing state, Colorado is being used as a testing ground to re-elect Obama. It was an irresponsible fiscal calculation of our taxpayer dollars, but one that they were very willing to make.

Republican House Speaker Frank McNulty said during press conferences last week, “I suspect it’s not coincidence the Governor had President Obama’s top Colorado political operatives shuttling in and out of his office….Gov. Hickenlooper convened the special session for political purposes and is clearly reading from President Obama’s campaign playbook as he attempts to distract voters from the real issue: the economy.””

With so much at stake, Coloradans on both sides of this debate deserve more.

Elected to the Colorado House of Representatives as a Republican in 2006, Representative Amy Stephens represents House District 19 and serves as the House majority leader.

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