PFLAG National Vice-President and RD Council Chair Jean Hodges shares some insight on this important piece of legislation:
Here in Colorado the tension is building around LGBT equality for same sex unions.
This week the Colorado Senate passed SB 172/Civil Unions with bi-partisan support (23–12). Three Republicans joined all 20 Democrats voting for the bill. This initial victory is a sign of change since 2006 when we in PFLAG worked really hard with LGBT groups to pass a civil unions referendum, which was narrowly defeated by conservative forces that pushed through a constitutional amendment to protect traditional marriage. That was a bitter defeat. But as Evan Wolfson, national spokesperson for marriage equality says: "When we lose, lose forward!" Like the phoenix, we are trying again with the civil unions bill. This time around with growing change toward attitudes of greater acceptance of same-sex unions, we have more hope for bipartisan support.
The next hurdle is to pass SB172 through the Colorado House which has a slight Republican majority.
One of the major talking points being used by those calling in to the Colorado legislature in support of the bill is regarding economic benefits to the state. One Colorado, the state-wide organizing effort for LGBT issues, released the following late last week:
A new Williams Institute study at UCLA School of Law shows that allowing same-sex and different-sex couples to enter civil unions in Colorado would boost the state budget by nearly $5 million over three years. The increase in state funds results from savings in expenditures on state means-tested public benefit programs, state license fees, and sales tax revenues. The study predicts that Colorado’s same-sex couples would spend nearly $19 million on civil union ceremonies. Out of state guests would generate an additional $6 million in spending.
Shari Wilkins, chair of the PFLAG Denver chapter board, writes from the heart on this bill:
Three years ago my partner and I were arrested as we attempted to apply for a marriage license in the City and County of Denver, Colorado. Along with three gay men and one lesbian we were booked and escorted to jail. We spent four days in a court trial, defending both our right to protest in a public place and to have equal access to the laws which seem to apply to everyone else in our State.
Deborah and I have been together for 26 years. I have taught the children of those who would deny me the right to protections afforded heterosexual couples. who have been together for less time. I am a Denver native and have paid the same taxes to fund the Denver County Clerk and Recorder services as my straight cousins, aunts and uncles. Both Deborah and I give to the community with both love, compassion, time and dollars.
It is time to stop the hateful rhetoric about the harm that gay marriage or civil unions will do to this country. This is not a biblical issue, it is a human equality issue. We make application for marriage licenses in the County Clerk and Recorder's Office, not in the office of the local church. This is not about GLBT citizens destorying an institution, but about couples doing the loving and hard work of creating families and relationships based on respect, a belief in the future and most of all loving another human being. How can that be wrong?