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On the Colorado ballot this year is Referendum I, which will allow same-sex couples to register with the state and obtain many but not all of the basic legal rights associated with marriage.  Polls show the referendum slightly ahead.  Early voting has been going on in Colorado for a week with another week to go.  Colorado Republicans are already laying the groundwork for a vicious civil war after what they expect will be significant losses at the polls in this state.  In addition to making an immediate positive impact on the lives of many Colorado families, if Referendum I passes it will throw fuel on the fire of the Republican civil war and symbolically end the era when conservative "crazies" controlled the political discourse in this state.

Even before Focus on the Family and other right wing religious nonprofits set up shop in Colorado Springs in the late '80s and early '90s, the Colorado Republican Party was split between the "crazies" (led by then-state Representatives Tom Tancredo and Marilyn Musgrave and the conservative Independence Institute "think" tank) and everyone else.  The 1992 election, when both TABOR and the gay-bashing Amendment 2 passed, was the real turning point -- both were expected to fail, both passed, and the crazies seized the opportunity to proclaim that Colorado had become their state.  (Clinton's win in the state was blamed on Ross Perot and spun so that Perot voters were considered Republican crazies too, even though Perot was very popular in places like Boulder County.)  Even with this momentum, it took Bill Owens to unite the party and finally win the governorship in 1998 by convincing both "crazies" and country club Republicans that he was one of them (only the latter were correct).

I think it is safe to say that Bob Beauprez is no Bill Owens.  He pretty clearly represents metro Denver business interests and does not have the trust of the "crazies," who backed Marc Holtzman in the bitter GOP primary.  And so we may be entering another period like the '80s and '90s, where big bucks developers with little or no political experience vie with ideological right wingers for control of the Colorado Republican Party, with neither able to unite the warring factions.

The passage of Referendum I, in addition to being just plain good policy, will provide an easy political narrative -- the era of social-conservative dominance that began with the passage of Amendment 2 in 1992 ended in 2006 when Colorado became the first state to vote for tolerance by authorizing domestic partnerships through a popular vote.  (Knock on wood.) But it will also undercut claims by social conservatives that the problem with Colorado Republicans is that they aren't pure enough on hot button social issues.  The ultimate result will be to drive the political center in Colorado further to the left, which can only help progessive politics in the long run.

Originally posted to Colorado Luis on Mon Oct 30, 2006 at 05:54 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Vote Yes On Ref I in Colorado (9+ / 0-)

    I got a GOTV call from the Ref I campaign the other day.  I was happy to tell them I had already voted for I.  It occurs to me that in a city like Denver where lots of people know a gay or lesbian couple that would be helped by legal domestic partnerships, an initiative like Referendum I actually helps get out the progressive vote.

  •  Worth recommending (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Redfire, Christopher Walker

    for the brief and succint history of the rise of GOP in Colorado in late 80's and 90s for us folks from other states alone.

    "Once in a while you get shown the light In the strangest of places if you look at it right"

    by molly bloom on Mon Oct 30, 2006 at 06:13:52 AM PST

  •  Interesting & Great History--Thanx! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Colorado Luis, molly bloom

    An initiative here in Az. (107), according to all polls, is headed for a pretty big win here, surprisingly enough.  What intended as an anti-Gay Marriage effort, it would illegalize ALL domestic partnerships and disallow partner benefits for any public entity (several cities, such as Phoenix, Tempe, and Tucson now have such).  There has been a very well-done campaign against this, emphasizing it would rob children of domestic partners from health benefits and punish Senior couples "living in sin."  

  •  working with seniors (3+ / 0-)

    We are shepherding a sizable group of senior citizens through getting an application for absentee ballot, seeing that they fill out the ballot and helping them fold it back into the envelope properly and SIGN it, and stamp it and put it in the mailbox. It takes MANY steps to vote. As we read the ballot to them, and come to Referendum I, I expected this age group to vote no. But lo and behold, every one (so far) has voted yes. Seniors can be socially progressive as well as anyone! It has been a really good experience to do this and some have not voted for some years and are so proud of themselves! We had a coffee in our apartment and two candidates came. The Seniors felt they had been NOTICED. So....I am thinking it will pass.

    I am wearing something orange EVERY day. How will I recognize you?

    by oakroyd on Mon Oct 30, 2006 at 06:56:20 AM PST

    •  Seniors rule. Back in the early 90's I got (0+ / 0-)

      involved in healthcare reform activism.  The biggest surprise I had was when I attended a League of Women Voters discussion gathering full of Georgia seniors.  It was the most open and almost radical group of single-payer supporters I'd seen in a general public gathering.  Even when guestions of rationing came up, people were saying they were willing to chance it to ensure the future of their children.

      "Yes dear. Conspiracy theories really do come true." (tuck, tuck)

      by tribalecho on Mon Oct 30, 2006 at 07:46:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  No on 43 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Colorado Luis

    Don't forget the companion vote to yes on 'i'.

  •  Very interesting. (0+ / 0-)

    Thanks.  Had no idea on the state of affairs in Colorado or that any state was about to pass such a referendum.  As to the civil war, I thought you were going to give evidence to my long held suspicion that the Coulter's and Parsley's of this country were preparing their minions to do violence to the likes of us.

    "Yes dear. Conspiracy theories really do come true." (tuck, tuck)

    by tribalecho on Mon Oct 30, 2006 at 07:39:43 AM PST

  •  Thanks Luis (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Colorado Luis

    I think Ref. I will pass this year: even my Republican friends have little to no argument against providing benefits to same-sex couples.

    With the passage of Ref. C last year, a small trend seems to be developing.  I hope that a more progressive set of policies can be implemented in the coming years as the vast left-wing agenda reverses the declines brought about by the rightie-crazies.

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