Colorado civil unions bill draws Catholic opposition

By Kevin J. Jones

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Colorado State Capitol. Credit: J. Stephen Conn (CC BY-NC 2.0).

The Colorado Catholic Conference has urged citizen action to stop a civil unions bill that is advancing in the state’s House of Representatives.

Executive director Jennifer Kraska told EWTN News May 4 that the conference is “deeply disappointed” by a move from the House Judiciary Committee, which voted 6-5 to pass civil unions legislation out of committee Thursday night.

On the evening of May 3, Republican Rep. B.J. Nikkel of Loveland, Colo. voted with the committee’s Democrats to advance Senate Bill 2. Last year, Rep. Nikkel voted against the bill in committee, killing it by a 6-5 vote.

The legislation now heads to the House Finance Committee for a hearing.

“We are urging all people to contact the members of the House Finance Committee and their state representative to urge them to vote no on S.B. 2,” Kraska said.

The legislation would create marriage-like partnerships for both same-sex and opposite-sex couples, and states that the “legal benefits, protections and responsibilities that are granted under the law to spouses apply in like manner to a civil union.”

The bill has already passed the Colorado Senate. The Republicans control the State House by a one-vote margin, but civil unions supporters believe they have enough Republican votes to pass the bill.

Along with Nikkel, Republican Reps. Robert Ramirez of Westminster and Kevin Priola of Henderson have said they will vote in favour of the bill if it reaches the House floor, the Denver Post reported.

The Republicans control scheduling of the bill and could prevent its passage. The bill’s next committee hearing must take place by Wednesday, when the Legislature adjourns.

Kraska thanked state representatives and state senators who voted against the bill.

“A ‘no’ vote on this legislation takes a great deal of courage and fortitude in the face of unfriendly media coverage, great political pressure and bitter criticism,” she said.

Byron Babione, senior counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, testified before the House Judiciary Committee’s Thursday hearing that civil unions “undermine the case for marriage,” according to the Denver Post.

“A vote for this is a vote for same-sex marriage,” he said, stating that men and women “provide the most optimum family environment for children.”

House Minority Leader Mark Ferrandino, a homosexual lawmaker who sponsored the bill, said the proposal is about equal rights.

But in a January interview, Kraska told EWTN News that the bill creates an “alternate structure to marriage” and is “just a stepping stone to the legalization of same-sex marriage.”

Colorado’s Catholic bishops have issued a statement on the civil unions bill that warned that “any attempts to weaken or redefine marriage will serve only to deteriorate the family structure of our society.”

In 2006, 56 percent of Colorado voters passed a marriage definition amendment that affirmed marriage as a union of a man and a woman. That same year Referendum I, a domestic partnership measure, failed with 47 percent in support and 53 percent opposed.

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