Over the past three years, hundreds of people have come to the state Capitol to testify for or against civil unions. Yesterday was likely the public's last chance to weigh in on this year's version as it continues its course toward likely victory. CPR's Megan Verlee presents the voices of some who testified on the bill, and the lawmakers who listened to them.
[The following is a transcript of those comments]
Kio Frazier, civil unions supporter: "For us we live very much married. If you saw our day to day, you would see, just like you, we get up in the morning, make each other coffee, share best wishes and kisses to start the day. We will continue to be happily ever after, ever after. Us being recognized by the law solidifies that our love is just as meaningful as yours, our family is just as meaningful as yours, and our commitment is just as solid as yours."
Shawna Kempainnen, Executive Director Inside/Out Youth Services in Colorado Springs: "About two weeks ago we were in a group and asked 75 LGBT teenagers what civil unions meant to them... One young man answered, really quietly, "it would mean that I could see myself being happy. And it would mean that I wouldn’t have to die alone in a hospital room." And that is one of the reasons that we’re here: for those young people."
Nicole Martin, attorney with Colorado Family Action: "You are asking for tolerance, but on its face, without a religious exemption or a conscious exemption, this tolerance is a one-way street. And you are asking, demanding, that citizens take a position on something that they don’t believe in."
Father Michael Carmody, on behalf of the diosceses of Colorado: "The fundamental structure of society is marriage. Senate Bill 11 gives couples an out. I can hear the debate now. I won’t marry you, but we can have a civil union. Is this the road we as a state want to go down? This is not good for marriage. This is not good for children. This is not good for society at large."
Speaker Mark Ferrandino, bill sponsor: "Being raised Catholic and understanding the sacrament of marriage, I understand why we talk about religion in this, but what we really are talking about here is rule of law, and the ability of individuals being seen equal under the rule of law. And while I have the honor of being Speaker of the House, my family doesn’t have equality under the law."
Representative Polly Lawrence [R-Roxborough]: "This is gay marriage. And I have to go back to thinking this needs to go before the people of Colorado. They voted on this in 2006. I’ve had many people tell me times have changed, but I would still say it needs to go back to a vote of the people."
Representative Carole Murray [R-Castle Rock], the only Republican to support the bill: "Most important, as my upbringing has taught me, it’s not for me to judge others, but to leave that up to God. While on earth, Jesus asked us to love one another. In this spirit I’ll be a yes vote on this bill."