Hoping To Seize On New York’s Success, Colorado To Reintroduce Civil Unions Measure

The successful passage of same-sex marriage in New York — the first state to achieve marriage equality under a Republican-controlled legislature — is leading advocates in other states to re-examine the possibility of advancing similar measures. U.S. News’ Laura Chapin reports that one such effort may be underway in Colorado, where lawmakers rejected a civil unions measure earlier this year:

Both the state House and Senate sponsors have said they will re-introduce the legislation, and as Senate sponsor state Sen. Pat Steadman, a Democrat from Denver, tells me, “[Republicans’] moves next year will be very interesting to watch. We’re at that point in the chess game when each little move becomes make or break. The end game is in sight.”

I asked Steadman why New York Republicans succeeded where Colorado Republicans did not, and his answer was simple. “New York Republican leadership is much smarter than we have here.” House sponsor state Rep. Mark Ferrandino, also a Democrat from Denver, was equally pointed.

“In New York, their leadership is willing to stand up against fringe,” he said. “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.” […]

And Steadman and Ferrandino agree that there will be political fallout if Republicans dismiss a civil unions bill in the 2012 legislature. “I definitely think there are political implications; just look at polling data,” Ferrandino says. “So many people support civil unions that it shows their leadership is not in touch with mainstream Colorado voters.”

Steadman is equally blunt. “I think it should be readily apparent. How much more out of step could they be?”

Some GOP lawmakers are already coming around. Back in April, Sen. Shawn Mitchell (R), who voted against the civil unions measure, said that he’s re-thinking his no vote. “Considering these things, I wondered if I was focusing on a mote that might touch heterosexual families, and missing a beam squeezing gay households,” he wrote. “Maybe recognizing civil unions could blur the focus on two parent homes raising children. But maybe the impact would be minuscule compared to broader trends ravaging families. And maybe the benefits that same-sex households would feel acutely are simply more important and more valuable to them than any speculative and marginal damage to the climate for heterosexual commitment is to others.”