by Chet Hardin
Yesterday was the critical day for Senate Bill 2, the bill that would have authorized civil unions in Colorado. With only one day left in the session of the Legislature, the bill had to pass through a final committee, move to the House floor to be debated and voted on. This all had to happen yesterday.
And it didn't. But it wasn't because there wasn't support for the bill. As we detailed briefly, the bill had won support from a number of Republicans. Its sponsor in the Republican-controlled House, Rep. Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, has stated repeatedly that he had secured the votes to get the bill to the governor's desk.
It died, depending on who you listen to, thanks to the political gamesmanship of either the Republicans or the Democrats, or both.
From the Denver Post:
A bill to allow same-sex couples to form civil unions died on the calendar late Tuesday, taking down with it more than 30 other measures in a dramatic game of political chicken in which no one would blink.
When Republican Speaker Frank McNulty acknowledged there was an impasse and abruptly ended his news conference on the House floor, Coloradans watching in the gallery started chanting: "Shame on you! Shame on you!"
At least five House Republicans supported the measure, meaning if the bill had been debated it would have passed, which is why some observers were so infuriated.
From the Gazette (and, if you want to start your day with some ridiculous hatred, peruse the comments):
Later, Speaker of the House Frank McNulty said the impasse wasn't either side's fault.
"These things happen. It is unfortunate," McNulty said. "But the timing is such that we are not able to work through that impasse."
Ferrandino blamed the Republicans. "They don't want to have the debate," he said.
Rep. Mark Waller, R-Colorado Springs, blamed Ferrandino for “playing procedural games.”
He blamed Senate Democrats for not sending the civil unions bill until nearly the end of the session and said they could have taken care of the bill much earlier.
“The Democrats are playing politics with this, plain and simple,” Waller said. “They want us to be in this circumstance right now, so they can increase their chances of taking a majority in the House next year.”
From Out Front Colorado:
The announcement that the civil unions bill would not be brought up for a vote was met with boos from supporters sitting in the gallery overlooking the House floor.
“Shame on you!” they chanted.
“All we ask is you guys give us a chance,” a supporter yelled.
The entire gallery was cleared by sergeants after one supporter yelled, “I hope you all die!”
The leading lobbying organization advocating for the bill said the LGBT community will have [to] remember the events of May 8 in November.
“House leadership decided today that it was more important to play politics than do the people’s business. Although a clear majority of Colorado voters support civil unions—and a clear majority of our Representatives agree with them—House leadership killed the bill, proving just how out-of-touch they are with everyday Coloradans,” said executive director of One Colorado Brad Clark. “In November, Colorado voters will not forget that House leadership obstructed the legislative process by killing a bill that was assured passage on the House floor. Because of their decision, Colorado families will be hurt.”
State Bill Colorado has a list of all the bills that became collateral damage last night, such as the bill that would have reduced sentences for certain drug offenses and the DUI bill for marijuana.