Off Limits

The heart of the matter: Just in time for Valentine's Day, state lawmakers are working overtime to make Colorado safe for heterosexual love. Last week, a somewhat emasculated version of state representative Mark Paschall's "covenant marriage" bill cleared the House Judiciary Committee. As originally conceived, Paschall's proposal would have created a special marriage contract stipulating that a husband and wife could get divorced only if one partner had committed adultery, abandonment, alcohol or drug abuse, child abuse, sexual or physical abuse or a felony--or if they both agreed to end the marriage, and then they'd have to go through counseling first. That lawmakers even considered such legislation speaks volumes about the apparently shaky institution of hetero marriage--which may be why they're trying so hard to protect it from gays and lesbians. On Monday the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill banning any recognition of same-sex marriage--a familiar proposal in the statehouse, but one that has a good chance of getting through now that Republican governor Bill Owens is at the end of what had been Roy Romer's veto pen.

While lawmakers are at it, here are a few more pieces of legislation that might help the cause: a "Ten Commandments" marriage, legally codifying what's already in newlyweds' motel-room Bibles; a "Breeder Tax Credit," adding state deductions to the federal breaks; the "Shotgun Marriage Law," requiring all single mothers to get married to the nearest available man; and the "Natural Law," mandating destruction of all same-sex livestock found copulating.

More buttinsky business: If the Colorado Legislature approves state representative Bob Hagedorn's HB99-1296, former lawmakers won't be able to lobby the folks they left behind at the Capitol for a year after leaving office. But that doesn't mean they'll be entirely unemployable: Governor Owens, himself a former legislator, has managed to find spots for a dozen out-of-work lawmakers. The most recent hire came Monday, when Owens announced that former representative Jeanne Faatz, a Denver Republican who lost her bid for a Senate seat in November, would become director of the Colorado School-to-Career Partnership.

Horsin' around: The announcements came galloping out of the Denver Police Department so fast and furious that it was tough to keep up. First came the February 3 notification regarding a "public concern" issue: "After the Super Bowl Sunday confrontation in downtown Denver, the department has received a number of calls concerning the affect that the tear gas had on the police horses. The fact is that the horses are not affected at all by the tear gas."

That's horseshit. "I don't think horses would be affected any differently than people," says Dr. Keith Roehr, who handles animal-welfare cases for the state veterinarian's office. "It would behoove the police to prevent direct exposure of tear gas to their horses." According to Roehr, tear gas could irritate a horse's mucous membrane just as it would that of a human, although it would be unlikely to create any long-term problems.

But Charles Vail, the vet who treats police horses, stands by the DPD's story. "The fact is that the horses are not affected at all by the tear gas," he says. "And I can't tell you why. I've asked several respiratory physiologists, and they haven't been able to tell me why, and they don't have theories." The police horses did not emerge entirely unscathed, however: One bruised its hoof; another fell and hurt its leg. Today both patients are doing fine.

The next alert, headlined "From Denver Police Dept.," arrived the next day: "Be careful when you go to movie theaters. Please check your seats before you sit down!! An incident occurred when a friend's co-worker went to sit in a chair and something was poking her. She then got up and found that it was a needle with a little note at the end. It said, 'Welcome to the real world; you're HIV positive.' Doctors tested the needle and it was HIV positive. Be careful when going to the movies!!!! If you must go to the movies, please, please check." And movie theaters aren't the only dangers out there, the warning continued. "Pay telephone drug users are now taking their used needles and putting them into the coin return slots in public telephones. People are putting their fingers in to recover coins or just to check if anyone left change. They are getting stuck by these needles and infected with hepatitis, HIV and other diseases. This message is posted to make everyone aware of this danger. Beware! The change isn't worth it."

If you believe the above was a legit police warning, well, we've got a used kidney stolen from a visiting conventioneer to sell you. According to the official DPD note that accompanied the "falsified fax" currently making the rounds: "There have been no reported incidents of this nature to the Denver Police Department!!" Which any fan of urban legends could have told you, because, among other things, the DPD never uses more than two exclamation marks per missive.

 
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