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Congratulations to Colorado Republican House Representative BJ Nikkel who sided with Democrats on the Colorado House Judiciary Committee to approve Senate Bill 2, which would permit same-sex (as long as opposite-sex) civil unions in the state. The Committee’s approval does not guarantee that the measure will get to a full House vote, as it needs to pass two more committees, as well as minor but potentially terminal procedural issues, in a Republican-controlled chamber nearing the end of this year’s legislative session.
The bill includes some sensible provisions:
“A priest, minister, rabbi, or other official of a religious institution or denomination or an Indian nation or tribe is not required to certify a civil union in violation of his or her right to free exercise of religion.”
Parties to a civil union will have many or most of the same responsibilities and rights of married people, including responsibility for financial support,…the ability to inherit property,…the ability to adopt a child,…survivor benefits,…medical directives,…dependent coverage on life and health insurance.
The measure was clearly written with the intention of getting at least a modicum of Republican support, with these key caveats in the legislation itself:
“The Act shall not be construed to create a marriage between the parties to a civil union or alter the public policy of this state that recognizes only the union of one man and one woman as a marriage. Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, the Act shall not be interpreted to require a child placement agency to place a child for adoption with parties to a civil union.”
I share Rep. Nikkel’s commendable view: “It’s not something I’m passionate about, but I think we ought to move forward and bring it to a vote in the House.”
In particular, I would in fact prefer not to have government involved in marriage in any way, and then allow any two people to make any contract they want to (as long as it’s not a contract aimed to illegally hurt someone else.)
But as long as government has its nose in our private business, I believe there should be “equal protection” regardless of sexual preference.
Furthermore, this is smart politics for Republicans…and especially here in Colorado where two of the biggest funders of leftist candidates are (or have been) gay men: Tim Gill and Jared Polis. While Polis is now in Congress and much less involved in Colorado state-level politics, Mr. Gill remains very active and highly motivated by “gay rights” issues.
[For the record, I don’t believe in gay rights or black rights or Jewish rights or any other rights granted to groups. We have our rights as individual human beings and Americans, not as members of “victim” groups or other politically-targeted segments of society.]
Neutralizing not just Mr. Gill (on this issue, at least) is a good thing. But it’s certainly not the only thing. Whether it’s civil unions or hawkish immigration rhetoric, Republicans too often look intolerant and xenophobic. And it hurts the GOP at the ballot box, so that we’re stuck with Democratic policies in other important areas of government, such as taxation and spending.
I hope that BJ Nikkel is rewarded in her next election, to give some other Republicans the backbone to do what’s right, both morally and politically. I realize this was a tough vote for her, and that more “conservative” and religiously-motivated Republican politicians may disagree for deeply-felt reasons. But for those who vote against civil unions and vote in other ways which cause the GOP reputation for being a party of straight, old white men to persist, I encourage you to ask yourself whether you truly believe your vote or whether you think it’s just what you’re supposed to do, under pressure from a vocal minority intent on imposing morality through government.
It remains uncertain whether this bill will pass (or even reach) the other House committees needed to get to a full floor vote, where it would likely pass given Rep. Nikkel’s support. I hope there are a few other courageous Republicans on those committees. It’s time…past time…to get this done, for reasons of both principle and politics.
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