Colorado lawmakers, beset like people everywhere today by ephemeral digital messaging, received a rare treat at the Capitol yesterday in the form of construction paper “links of love” Valentine’s Day messages. The curly colored notes came from constituents asking lawmakers to support same-sex civil unions legislation introduced Monday by Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver. Civil unions advocates delivered the handwritten colored-paper messages, more than a thousand of them. Video evidence below.
Polling last year and this year in Colorado shows strong support for civil unions. A Public Policy Polling survey conducted at the beginning of February showed 72 percent support statewide.
Steadman and House sponsor Rep. Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, are confident that, if their the civil unions legislation makes it to the floor of the House for a vote, it will pass and become law, granting same-sex couples basic rights and responsibilities conferred on married couples here, rights like inheriting property from and making medical decisions for one another.
The bill could well get hung up in committee, however, where a small number of lawmakers opposed to the bill might bog it down by pointing out perceived weaknesses and forming a committee majority opposed to sending it on to the larger chamber for debate and a vote.
That six or seven lawmakers might kill a bill supported by more than 70 percent of the citizens of the state would strengthen calls for a referendum or ballot initiative on the topic. Fans of the initiative process argue that, when it comes to controversial or groundbreaking proposals, the ballot box is the best place to get around intransigent or wary lawmakers.
Indeed, in 2006 Coloradans voted to ban gay marriage by passing Amendment 43, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman. Yet, as the Colorado Independent reported in 2009, voting statistics geek Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com set up a model based on trends in 30 states to predict when voters might likely overturn gay marriage bans and, according to Silver, opponents of the gay marriage ban in Colorado would stand a very strong chance of repealing it at the ballot box in the 2012 election cycle.