Make legistors take stand on civil unions
The bill to allow civil unions among gay couples in Colorado faces its final obstacle in the state House of Representatives this week.
Or it will if Speaker Frank McNulty and other House Republican leaders allow the full House to debate and vote on the bill.
According to an article in The Denver Post Monday, McNulty was contemplating allowing the bill to die by not moving it to the House floor before the Legislature adjourns Wednesday.
That would be a colossal mistake.
To put it as straightforwardly as possible, all Colorado lawmakers need to vote on this difficult issue, and their constituents need to know where they stand.
Members of the Colorado Senate have already taken a stand on the civil unions bill. They passed it 23-12 last month, with several Republicans joining Democrats to support it.
McNulty should allow those in the House to also take a public position on the bill with their votes, and let their constituents and history judge whether they have done the right thing.
For the speaker to essentially stick the bill in his back pocket to prevent any action on it before the Legislature adjourns would make a mockery of the representative process that he is supposed to oversee in the House.
It would also be a chicken move — an indication that McNulty fears he doesn’t have the votes to kill a measure that he has long opposed but, which, according to recent surveys, a majority of Coloradans support.
The Daily Sentinel has made clear its support for the civil unions bill several times in the last two years. We believe it is a commonsense measure that allows people in committed homosexual relationships to enjoy many of the rights and remedies that heterosexual couples do. It would authorize them to make medical decisions for each other if one partner becomes incapacitated, share retirement and medical benefits, inherit real estate and personal property if there is no will, and more.
It does not authorize gay marriage, which is not allowed under the Colorado Constitution. But many opponents fear it allows something so close to marriage as to be indistinguishable.
For the record, we believe it makes sense for the government to get out of the businesses of sanctioning marriage entirely. The state should allow civil unions between heterosexual as well as homosexual couples. But those who want a sanctioned marriage should go to the church or religious organization of their choice for that.
What SB 2 does authorize is a contract between two people to share benefits, medical decisions, inheritance and other things, and to obtain a license that recognizes that contract. No one should view this as sanctioning easy, unserious relationships. If partners want to end the relationship, they will have to go through a judicial dissolution to do so.
We see no valid reason for Speaker McNulty and other Republican leaders to prevent a vote on Senate Bill 2.