Huffpost Denver
THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Jason Salzman Headshot

The Untold Story of Why GOP Extremists Killed Civil Unions

Posted: Updated:

With kids in my daughter's 12-year old circle of friends addicted to ABC's Modern Family, which features a gay family that's as neurotic and loving as any other family, you wonder why innocent legislation allowing gay couples to form civil unions, not marriages, was defeated in the Colorado Legislature.

Don't those guys watch Modern Family? Glee? Don't they read the polls?

It's not ok to impose your homophobia on others anymore in America, even though we just saw it happen in Colorado.

And most Colorado legislators know it. The bill allowing civil unions had enough votes to become law.

Yet the legislation was killed by Colorado House Republicans, who refused to let it come up for a full vote.

Everyone wants to know why.

If you've been following the internal affairs of the Republican Party, you won't be surprised by the answer.

Extreme elements of the Colorado GOP over-powered the weak moderates, and forced their anti-gay agenda on all of us.

Back in March, Denver Post Editorial Page Editor Curtis Hubbard, speculated that House Majority Leader Amy Stephens' primary fight against Representative Marsha Looper might play a role in the fate of the civil unions bill.

"Watch to see whether this becomes an issue in their campaigns," Hubbard advised.

Since then, Looper and Stephens have been competing to show voters in ultra conservative El Paso Country who's more conservative.

So it makes sense that Stephens, being the Majority Leader for House Republicans, with considerable power to control what gets voted on, would pull out the stops to prove she's the uncompromising conservative that she claims to be, versus Looper, who reportedly supports civil unions.

And that's apparently what Stephens did, according to Republican House Speaker Frank McNulty speaking on the Jeff Crank Show on KVOR Saturday.

Crank complimented Stephens and McNulty for putting their political lives on the line to stop civil unions.

McNulty responded to Crank with this:

McNulty: "Well, thank you. And it's absolutely true that Amy Stephens was the rock that we came back to throughout the debate. It wasn't easy, and there were times when the pressure was great, when you have advocates for [civil unions] piling into the gallery, and you're looking up there wondering what's going to happen next. And Amy is so strong in her faith, and is absolutely rock solid, and she just has a measure of calm about her in crisis and that's one of the things that we relied on. And our goal is to head into this Special Session."

You bet it wasn't easy for Stephens and McNulty, carrying the water for extremists in their party, with every single Democrat and a handful of Republican moderates against them.

But now comes the easy part for Stephens. She can head to her conservative El Paso district and say she's more true-blood conservative than Looper. And she'll have a better chance of beating her in the upcoming GOP primary.

That's probably why House Speaker McNulty was bragging about Amy "The-Rock" Stephens on Colorado-Springs' KVOR on Saturday. McNulty could have talked about civil unions to almost any reporter in Colorado. They were clamoring for him, but he chose a conservative station in CO Springs.

McNulty apparently wanted to remind Stephens' extreme constituents that she's on their side, along with the powerful Tea Party wing of the Colorado Republican Party, even if the faces of the people in the House gallery when civil-unions was killed were there to remind Republicans that the rest of us have moved on, and we want gay men and women to have the same basic rights and opportunities as anyone else.

Listen to the McNulty audio clip here: McNulty On the Jeff Crank Show 5-12-2012.