According to new census data released this week, the percentage of Colorado’s same-sex couples living together grew more than 60 percent in the last decade. And almost 25 percent of those couples are raising children. Which begs the question: Does New York’s gay marriage law passing mean a second chance at LGBT marriage rights in Colorado?
In March of this year, Colorado Republican leadership shot down at a civil unions bill in a GOP-controlled house committee, but Democratic state Rep. Mark Ferrandino, still had hope in March telling a crowd on the Capital’s steps in March, “It isn’t a matter of if, but when,” Fox31 reported earlier in the year.
State Sen. Pat Steadman and Ferrandino said that they are planning on reintroducing the legislation, likely in 2012, and had strong words for Colorado Republicans after the passing of the New York law.
In a statement to USNews about why New York Republicans would vote for gay marriage legalization where Colorado Republcans did not, Steadman said bluntly:
New York Republican leadership is much smarter than we have here.
“In New York, their leadership is willing to stand up against fringe,” Ferrandino also said to USNews. "In Colorado, it's a small minority in their party that they're listening to, and they weren't willing to stand up to them last session,” Ferrandino goes on to say.
Steadman’s and Ferrandino’s strong words prompted a similarly heated response from Colorado House Speaker Frank McNulty, a Republican representing Highlands Ranch, who said to The Denver Post, “If that’s the Democrats’ [stance], then our Democrats aren’t as smart as the New York legislature's.” McNulty goes on to say that prior to Republicans winning back the House by one-seat recently, Colorado Democrats controlled the Senate for four years without introducing a civil unions bill.
The Denver Post reports that The total number of same-sex couples in the state increased to 16,000 in 2010, from 10,000 in 2000. The census data also shows that Colorado’s same-sex couples are among the fasted-growing segment of the population with a 42 percent increase in the past decade. That’s a fast-growing population of voters who certainly want the same rights as New York.
Both Steadman and Ferrandino agree that in the wake of New York’s gay marriage law passing and with the census data suggesting the increased LGBT population in Colorado, there could be political fallout if Republicans shoot down a Colorado civil unions bill this time around. Ferrandino says to USNews, “So many people support civil unions that it shows their leadership is not in touch with mainstream Colorado voters.”
Despite the tense split between Colorado Republicans and Democrats, Brad Clark, Executive Director of One Colorado, a leading Colorado LGBT rights advocacy group is hopeful about bi-partisan support for a bill similar to New York’s:
For the first time in any state, a marriage bill was passed in a Republican-led legislative chamber. The New York State Senate demonstrated that equality is a nonpartisan issue. And with similar bi-partisan support for civil unions in Colorado, I look forward to the day very soon that gay and lesbian couples in this state can have the critical legal protections they need to take care of and be responsible for their families.