On Election Day, 1992 I was in downtown Denver, celebrating the fact that Bill Clinton had just been elected President. I remember the joy I felt as I left that ballroom, feeling satisfaction that the hard-fought race had been won.
When I left the hotel I noticed an angry group gathered outside the hotel. They were angry that Amendment 2 had passed, which prohibited government protection of LGBT citizens. Assuming just that day that this surely wouldn't pass was my first lesson in never taking anything for granted when it comes to politics. Last night was another example of that.
Fast foward twenty years. This session in the Colorado Legislature a bill was introduced to allow same-sex couple to form civil unions. It passed in the Democratic controlled Senate.
In the Colorado House the Republicans held the majority by just one vote. However history seemed to be on our side. In recent polling 72% of Coloradans support civil unions. Five House Republicans said they would vote for it if came to the House floor. The bill passed through several committees, barely surviving each time because one Republican voted for it.
Even former RNC Chair Ken Mehlman was supporting this initiative:
"I care about the health of the Republican Party, and blocking something the vast majority of voters support and that will undermine family values and undermine freedom seems to me to be both bad policy and bad politics," Mehlman told The Denver Post.Then....last night. The last night of the session to get any bills passed. The votes needed to take place before midnight. Around early evening the Republicans started fillibustering off of a technical bill around trans fats in school. They spoke for an hour on that, throwing around words like "freedom" and "government control." (Oh, the irony.) After they finally voted on that bill they kept fillibustering.
Then, the House recessed and never came back into session. The Republican House leadership, in a complete abdication of responsibility let 30 other bills die rather than vote on civil unions. Keep in mind that the Colorado House Leadership includes Majority Leader Amy Stephens, who worked for 10 years for Focus on the Family.
And once again, I felt that pain. Pain for same-sex families who still do not have the rights that my husband and I have. Pain for those who sought help through those 30 bills that were denied. And pain that my beautiful state of Colorado came so close to enlightenment. But we won't give up and we won't give in.
So today and on through November please remember this: vote the whole ballot. It matters, it really matters.