Colo. Catholic Conference rallies opposition to civil unions special session

Colorado State Capitol Credit J Stephen Conn CC BY NC 20 CNA US Catholic News 5 4 12 The Colorado state capitol building. | J. Stephen Conn (CC BY-NC 2.0)

The Colorado Catholic Conference and the Catholic bishops of Colorado are urging voters to oppose Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper’s call for a special legislative session to vote on civil unions legislation.

“The Catholic bishops of Colorado encourage all Catholics and all people of good will to join in prayer and action,” the conference said May 10.

“This special session is a rash reaction to political and financial pressure from special interest groups who do not represent the majority of Coloradans,” said the conference, which works on behalf of the Catholic Church on legislative issues.

“The civil union debate is finally about securing legitimacy for social arrangements and personal behaviors that most societies and religious traditions have found problematic from long experience, not out of disrespect for homosexual persons, but because of the implications that creating a pseudo-marital institution would have for society at large.”

The 2012 session of the Colorado House of Representatives ended May 9 amid great controversy.

With the support of one Republican, a civil unions bill unexpectedly passed through a House committee and advanced to the Republican-controlled House floor.

Republicans filibustered the bill and House Speaker Frank McNulty announced an impasse May 8. The civil unions bill, along with more than 30 other bills, died without a vote.

The bill would grant the legal benefits, protections and responsibilities of spouses to any two unrelated people who contract a union. Though the bill is being advocated as a gay rights measure, opposite-sex couples can also contract a union.

Civil unions backers believe they have enough Republican support to pass the bill.

On May 9 Gov. Hickenlooper, a Democrat, called for a special session. He described civil unions as a “civil rights issue,” the Denver NBC affiliate 9 News reports.

The Colorado Catholic Conference objected to supporters’ use of civil rights language.

“To equate the absence of civil unions with the struggles of the civil rights movements of the past is a distortion: it diminishes true injustices that were overcome and those which are yet to be overcome,” the conference said.

Protecting marriage is a “fundamental governmental responsibility” and redefining it is “beyond the ability of any human government.”

The conference said that Christians believe in the dignity of all human life, but added that civil unions are not about ensuring homosexual persons’ basic rights.
“Those rights are already guaranteed under law,” it said.

Gov. Hickenlooper said Wednesday that his office had received over 500 calls and e-mails about a special session, with the “overwhelming majority” in favor.

Colorado’s Catholic conference urged civil unions opponents to contact the governor to disapprove of the special session and to contact their state representatives and senators to ask them to vote “no” on civil unions.

The conference pointed to the results of Colorado’s 2006 election, when voters defeated a same-sex civil unions ballot measure by 52 to 47 percent.

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“On this issue, the people have spoken,” the conference said.

Though Colorado was once a center for the Evangelical Christian “family values” movement, state politics in recent years has become dominated by wealthy backers of homosexual political causes.

Colorado technology entrepreneur and multi-millionaire Tim Gill has pursued a strategy of targeting opponents of gay political causes at the local level, including state legislative races, to eliminate future leaders opposed to his goals.

In April 2011, Gill’s lawyer Ted Trimpa told Denver’s Fox 31 News that Gill could spend as much as $2 million in 2012 state political contests to shift the state House to Democrat control.

Trimpa’s statement was later removed from the Fox 31 News report.

A group of Republicans called Coloradans for Freedom has also joined the push for civil unions.

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