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Civil unions bill: Pat Steadman calls measure's killing a disgusting spectacle

Last night, House GOP leadership killed a civil unions bill sponsored by Senator Pat Steadman by preventing a procedural vote that would have brought it to the chamber's floor today.

Steadman was severely disappointed by this manner of murder, which also prevented the passage of many other bills. But he's definitely not in the market for any white flags.

In the post linked above, Jace Woodrum, deputy executive director of One Colorado and a vocal supporter of the civil unions proposal, officially known as Senate Bill 2, called the process that killed the legislation "unprecedented." Steadman isn't willing to go quite that far.

"The general assembly has been in business for over 130 years now," he points out. "So I'm sure there have been other equally disgusting spectacles in the past -- but none in recent memory."

Jace Woodrum at yesterday's pro-civil unions bill rally.
Jace Woodrum at yesterday's pro-civil unions bill rally.
Photo by Ladd Bosworth

Indeed, he marvels at the extremes to which House leaders went to squelch the measure, in apparent disregard of negative repercussions. "Thinking you can stop a speeding locomotive by throwing your body in front of it usually just leaves a mess on your hands," he allows.

On the same day the Colorado bill died, voters in North Carolina passed a constitutional amendment that bans both gay marriage and civil unions. Nonetheless, Steadman continues to believe that "momentum is clearly on our side.

"We have a constitutional ban on marriage equality, too," he goes on, referencing Amendment 43, the so-called Definition of Marriage Act, which passed in 2006. "But the proponents of that measure specifically chose not to go the route of what happened in North Carolina last night.

"They left open the possibility of other forms of recognition, including civil unions. They acknowledged that during the campaign six years ago, and that's the reason why the general assembly was able and seemingly willing to adopt legislation like Senate Bill 2, but for the extreme machinations of a limited few who unfortunately had the power to thwart the democratic process and stop this from happening."

Page down to continue reading our interview with Senator Pat Steadman.   In speaking to supporters, One Colorado's Woodrum maintained that the way the civil unions bill was taken down would become this legislative session's defining event, and Steadman agrees.

"I can't think of any other epitaph," he says. "To kill this one bill, they sacrificed so much else. There was a lot of collateral damage last night, and some very important bills got cut in the morass and aren't able to pass this year, at least during this regular session."

Steadman speaks at yesterday's rally.
Steadman speaks at yesterday's rally.
Photo by Ladd Bosworth

A prime example for Steadman: Senate Bill 165, which would have "created millions of dollars worth of water projects," he notes. "That's an awful lot of money that would have put an awful lot of people to work in various parts of the state where water projects take place. There would have been one at Chatfield, but there were others in western Colorado and a lot of other places -- and I would have to think those communities will be pretty sore about that bill and others that were sacrificed on this altar."

Since this is the last day of the session, Steadman has a busy stretch ahead of him -- so busy that he won't be able to map out the next step in the campaign for a while. But he's already capable of putting the bill's demise in perspective.

"The State Capitol is expert at handing out disappointment," he concedes. "Every once in a great while, it does something truly remarkable, and apparently this wasn't the session for the remarkable. But I've been fighting these battles for a long time, and even though setbacks are unpleasant, they're not the final chapter in the story.

"The fight goes on. It's been going on for a long time, and every day we are closer to our goal."

Look below to see SB 1265, the water projects bill Steadman mentioned. The summary at the outset details many of the projects that are now in limbo.

Colorado Senate Bill 12-165

Follow and like the Michael Roberts/Westword Facebook page.

More from our Follow That Story archive: "Video: Civil unions bill dies, proponent 'angry and pissed off and frustrated.'"


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