The Gay Nineties

Since Amendement 2 passed seven years ago, Colorado Springs has learned a lesson in Family Values.

There was no organized campaign against Perkins, Whitworth says, just buttons with "Will" behind a red circle with a slash through it. "The truth is, we estimate between 10,000 and 13,000 gay voters came out in that campaign," he says. "It was successful! On the night that Mary Lou won and he lost so badly, people were coming up and offering us money for our buttons!"

That's a long way from the pathetic voter turnout Whitworth had noticed at the Hide & Seek back in 1992. Once again, Colorado for Family Values could take credit for significant political gains in Colorado Springs -- although this round went to the gays.

Cheers for queers: Frank Whitworth at the bar where he watched election returns on the night Amendment 2 passed.
Cheers for queers: Frank Whitworth at the bar where he watched election returns on the night Amendment 2 passed.
Voice of America?: Colorado for Family Values' Kevin Tebedo.
Voice of America?: Colorado for Family Values' Kevin Tebedo.


Previous Westword articles

"Fact or Friction"
The ex-gay movement has its straight man -- but ex-ex-gays may have the last laugh.
October 1, 1998
By Ward Harkavy

"Slay It With a Smile,"
Paul Cameron's mission to stop homosexuality is hard to swallow.
October 3, 1996
By Ward Harkavy

Ten days after the April election, CFV Executive Director Paul Jessen left the organization; he had held the position for a year and a half. (Jessen said his only plans were to tackle his wife's list of "honey do" projects.) Board president Nancy Sutton, who at one time had served as director of the Massachusetts-based Families First, took over as acting executive director, saying publicly that "the loss of Will Perkins and Paul Jessen has sorely taxed our ability to do things right at the moment."

Sutton did not return Westword's phone calls. In CFV's July newsletter, however, she admitted that "right now is a particularly tough time for us." She blamed this partly on the fact that during the summer, "people tend to get out of their regular routines and often forget to respond to our newsletters." Still, she wrote, "anything extra you could send would enable us to continue many of the projects we have slated for the fall. CFV is moving ahead, and we have some very important projects in the works."

But CFV was conspicuously absent again in August, during the fire and brimstone that erupted after Makepeace signed a proclamation recognizing August 21-29 as "Pridefest Week" in honor of the annual gay pride celebration. "There was a story in the newspaper. Dr. Dobson had a whole half an hour of his national show devoted to it," says councilman Skorman. "Local radio talk-show host Chuck Baker spent hours and hours talking about it, and during the pride parade, there were about eight people protesting. We on council maybe got a dozen or so letters and phone calls not appreciating our action, but there were very few letters to the editor.

"The fact is, the mayor signs all kinds of proclamations," Skorman adds. "She signed Shirley Dobson's National Prayer Week proclamation and [American Family Association] Tom Pedigo's proclamation against pornography. If she hadn't signed it, that would have sent a very wrong message to the gay and lesbian community. She just did it without hesitation."

When Colorado for Family Values finally sent out another newsletter this month, the publication consisted almost entirely of its August 26 press release regarding the Pridefest proclamation. "Colorado for Family Values responded to the Mayor's proclamation on homosexuality, but you didn't hear or read our response," wrote CFV. "This press release was not printed or spoken about in any of the news media. It's almost as if there was a concerted effort to ignore anything that might oppose what Mayor Makepeace did."

No matter what the reason for the silence, CFV promised to do better in the future: "Clearly, with the major advances which homosexual activists like Mayor Makepeace have made in Colorado Springs, CFV must dramatically step up its efforts to confront this dangerous movement head on. Because the need is so great, Colorado for Family Values is undergoing radical change. We are being re-engineered, restructured, and renewed. You have not heard from us through our regular channels because we have been spending all of our time and effort over the past few months deciding upon our direction and a process for achieving what we've all decided to do...We need your constant and consistent prayer support starting right now."

And prayer alone wouldn't get the job done: "Too, we need your financial help and involvement like never before...We are reducing our expenses to the least amount possible so that the absolute maximum number of dollars can be used in the cause of protecting our families and especially our children. As you have no doubt figured out by now, our children are the real targets of the militant homosexual agenda."

But as CFV has yet to figure out, voters in Colorado Springs have already said to hell with the militant homosexual agenda. What people in Colorado Springs really care about, says Skorman, is traffic and growth.

This past July, the University of Colorado at Denver released a study concluding that gays and lesbians in Colorado Springs were feeling that their town was a much happier place to be homosexual.

Allan Wallis, director of the local government program at UCD's Graduate School of Public Affairs, spent a year asking gays in the Springs whether they generally were treated fairly and with respect; more than half of them said the city had grown more accepting since earlier in the decade.

That's partly because nearly 55,000 people have moved to Colorado Springs since Amendment 2 passed. And while the population of Colorado Springs remains "generally conservative," most of the new folks seem more tolerant.

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