Thursday, January 31, 2013

Left Side of the Aisle #93 - Part 1

Good news 1: Civil unions advance in Colorado
Going to start, as I always love to do, with some good news.

A civil unions bill that would allow same-sex couples in Colorado similar rights to those of married couples has passed a Senate committee. It is the first of several steps the bill must go through to be passed by the legislature.

The true good news is that according to a Public Policy Polling survey last summer, 57% of Coloradans endorse civil unions; even a third of GOPpers in the state do. What's more, the bill in question has overwhelming support from the majority Democrats and even some support among GOPpers, one of who is a co-sponsor in the House. So the bill is expected to get over all those hurdles and be passed - and when it is, Gov. John Hickenlooper has already said more than once that he will sign it.

The possibility of a legal battle looms, however, because the state Constitution bans same-sex marriage and it would seem logical to think there is the real risk of right-wingers claiming this is an unconstitutional attempt to evade the "clear meaning" of the ban. That's not likely to succeed since courts generally have recognized a legal difference between civil unions and marriages, but that doesn't mean the dead-enders won't try.

There is also, on the upside, a chance that as a result of this voters may reconsider that Constitutional ban, especially if the US Supreme Court overturns California's infamous Proposition 8, which became known as PropHate. Now, there is an important difference in that one of the arguments against PropHate is that it stripped away an existing right to same-sex marriage rather than blocking its establishment. Still, and it's very likely true, that, as state Sen. Pat Steadman says, Colorado's constitutional amendment "will not stand the test of time."

When passed, Colorado would become the sixth state to recognize some form of civil union for same-sex couples. Currently, nine states and the District of Columbia recognize the marriage rights of same-sex couples and three states have pending same-sex marriage legislation. So if those all pass (and in at least one, Illinois, it's expected to), that would make 18 states and DC recognizing some form of rights for same-sex couples.


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