"Should government tell us who we should love? We'll look back on this moment and realize it was foolish that [this legislation] took so long," state Sen. John Morse said about Senate Bill 172 in an interview with the Independent Monday.
If passed, SB 172 (aka the Colorado Civil Union Act) would provide significant legal protections for committed gay and lesbian couples across the state. According to a report by UCLA's the Williams Institute, upon three years of passage, Colorado would see a state fiscal benefit of close to $5 million. Participants of Monday's LGBT Lobby Day event at the state Capitol building in Denver, sent their message of support for the bill to their district legislators.
State Sen. Pat Steadman, who introduced SB 172 on Valentine's Day, also spoke with the Independent on Monday.
"Anyone who supports this bill should contact their representative. [They] should do what they can to educate their friends, neighbors and co-workers about this bill. People realize that public opinion supports this bill, because they understand what's at stake here," Steadman said.
The statewide LGBT advocacy group One Colorado estimated attendance at 125. At around 10 a.m., participants patiently waited outside the doors of the House and Senate. After written requests, many legislators briefly left the chamber floors to meet with Lobby Day constituents. Some legislators were only available to meet with participants in their offices, while other requests were ignored, or handled by legislative aides.
Individuals traveled to Monday's event from various regions of the state, including Colorado Springs. Bailey Harris, a Springs resident, attended Monday's event: "I saw LGBT lobby day as a huge success. It's always great to see so many people rallying around a cause they believe in and exercising their rights as American citizens. Civil unions are an important step toward equal rights, and it was heartening to see how many people are willing to really do something to enact change. I just hope our legislators were listening."
The Colorado State Constitution currently prohibits same sex-marriage. Due to this constitutional restriction, existing language in SB 172 does not extend marriage benefits for gay and lesbian couples.