CommunityPam's House Blend

Colorado braces for marriage amendment fight

This is the land of Daddy Dobson, so his forces are working full-bore to get a marriage amendment in Colorado. His folks need to get 68K signatures to move forward, and that is not going to be hard to do. (Denver Post):

One simple phrase – “only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state” – is about to set off a costly and emotional campaign in Colorado about marriage, gay rights, religion and the state’s economy.

A coalition of religious and conservative leaders plans to ask Colorado voters in November to add that phrase to the Colorado Constitution, in effect barring gay marriage here, according to a copy of the language obtained by The Denver Post.

A new nonprofit group, Coloradans for Marriage, is expected to file paperwork with the state next week, kicking off a debate over whether Colorado should become the 20th state to adopt a constitutional amendment that would prohibit gay marriage. The coalition – which includes Focus on the Family, the National Association of Evangelicals and the lobbying arm of Roman Catholic Church in Colorado – is expected to have little problem gathering the roughly 68,000 signatures needed to put the proposed amendment on the November ballot.

“Marriage is a fundamental aspect of our society,” said Jon Paul, executive director of Coloradans for Marriage. “The constitution is one of the documents that draws up the fundamental aspects of our society. Marriage needs to be in there as one of those fundamental aspects.”

Not in sync: Daddy Dobson wanted to ban civil unions, domestic partnerships and the like; Rev. Ted Haggard of Colorado Springs, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, and the RCC in Colorado thought that was overreaching.

There’s somewhat of a silver lining here. The language in this measure has been diluted. There is nothing that would allow a rollback on domestic partnerships, private contracts, or same-sex couple benefits. Daddy Dobson wanted the whole enchilada, but his cohorts didn’t think that would fly in Colorado.

Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family, which first floated the idea of putting a gay-marriage ban on the November ballot, had pressed for a more sweeping measure that would also do away with domestic partnerships.

But [Ted] Haggard said Tuesday that the main players have coalesced around the simpler language, which was supported by Haggard and the state’s Roman Catholic leadership. “The amendment supports marriage but doesn’t stand against anything,” said Haggard, pastor of 12,000-member New Life Church, one of the state’s largest congregations. “We want to say marriage is something, and we also want to give the freedom for citizens or legislators if they want to give similar benefits to other people.”

That leaves some fertile ground for groups like Equal Rights Colorado (ERC) and the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Colorado to place this in the context of fairness, and put the screws to Dobson. After all, playing this as a Dobson “loss” on his home turf is worthwhile; it’s about the only spin in a state that is likely to pass whatever amendment is placed on the ballot.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding