At noon, two days after a Senate committee voted to approve a bill allowing same-sex civil unions, a sizable crowd of "pro-marriage" supporters rallied on the steps of the State Capitol building.
A similar gathering took place in May last year following the failure of another civil union bill. But the tone of today's rally was decidedly less jovial.
Former KHOW talk-show host and vocal conservative Dan Caplis served as the master of ceremonies. He opened the event by inviting children in the audience up on stage before calling for a round of applause to salute legislators on hand to speak.
"Let's be honest about the moment we're at right now," he said, referring to the civil union bill. "This is a tough moment, so the fact that these senators and representatives are willing to stand up and protect marriage is significant."
Flanked by banners reading, "Protect Marriage," "We Support Traditional Marriage" and "Keep Society's Foundations Strong: Support Marriage," nine speakers -- a mix of politicians, activists and church leaders -- addressed the issues they feel the civil union bill elicits: redefining marriage, endangering the family and, subsequently, children, plus religious intolerance, or "religious bigotry," as many called it. There were no speakers in favor of civil unions.
After an opening prayer, Senator Kevin Lundberg, who served on the senate judiciary committee that heard the civil union bill on Wednesday, spoke about "basic principles of right and wrong," saying he believes "scripture is literally correct, and I take that seriously."
Colorado legislator Frank McNulty drew the loudest applause of the day when he stepped to the microphone. Lauded by the conservative community after the failure of the civil union bill last May, McNulty managed to rouse he crowd from its relatively flaccid state.
"It doesn't take courage to do the right thing, and we know what the right thing is," he said. "During those times, we had a great deal of words and hate thrown at us; we took that and responded with love."
He followed up by saying that marriage should be "reinforced, not redefined," urging members of the crowd to take to the Internet to make their views heard.
Crowd members attended the rally for a variety of reasons. Joe Stano of Denver said he felt the bill's language preventing religious charities from refusing to send children to same-sex couples was an example of "religious intolerance."
Lakewood's Rosemary Cardarelle aid she attended the rally because she wants the current definition of marriage -- between a man and a woman -- upheld.
"It's how families thrive," she said. "You cannot thrive any other way."
Surprisingly, only one oppositional voice was heard during the rally when a passing spectator interrupted former Senator Ed Jones, yelling, "What about divorce?" before leaving the scene. Jones responded that he has been married twice, but that his first wife passed away.
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As the rally ended, crowd members mingled for a few minutes before quickly dispersing. As they left, the impact of the afternoon was clear: The gathering was not about the smiling reinforcement of beliefs. Their grim faces instead reflected an uncomfortable acknowledgement that their perceived battle may already be finished.
More from our Follow That Story archive circa May 2012: "Video: Civil unions bill dies, proponent 'angry and pissed off and frustrated.'"