After the Colorado Civil Union Act was approved by the Senate, sponsor Pat Steadman predicted that it would pass the House if not blocked by "extremists." However, the measure died in the judiciary committee, with B.J. Nikkel and other Republican members voting against it. The anger this vote stirred is evident on a Facebook page entitled "BJ Nikkel Coward," which blames the Loveland rep for "singlehandedly" killing the bill and suggests that her actions will cause suicides.
Out Front Colorado notes that Nikkel was heavily lobbied by legislators in favor of the bill. In the end, however, she told OFC that "I felt they should have taken this back to the voters," who rejected a similar proposal in 2006. "That would have been the appropriate thing to do, so the appearance, the perception would not be to them that they were circumvented."
Of course, five other Republicans said pretty much the same thing. But the Facebook slam concentrates its attack on Nikkel, who's accused of committing "one of the greatest acts of cowardice that I've witnessed. You alone killed the civil unions bill in the House Judiciary Committee, despite the fact that over 70% of people in Colorado were in favor of the bill, including Independents and Republicans. Almost every newspaper editorial board in the state said it's time to pass this bill. The majority of the Senate and House felt that the bill should be passed."
But that's nothing compared to this passage:
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This week you sent a message to every gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) youth in the state. The Colorado youth suicide is amongst the highest in the nation. GLBT youth are the most vulnerable kids in the state to suicides and suicide attempts. Your own county, Weld County, has one of the highest suicide rates within the state. And with your vote, you callously told them that they are worth less than other kids in the state -- that they are second class citizens.
Their blood is on your hands. My hope is that every time a Colorado GLBT youth attempts suicide or actually kills themselves, you will suffer a sleepless night. We only hear about a fraction of the GLBT youth suicides in the state, but I hope that you will feel it in your heart and will be unable to sleep. This was a monumental decision, and I hope that you will feel the despair that they feel and that it will render you sleepless until you decide to do the right thing.
A number of people circulating this page believe it goes too far and that the individual or individuals behind it should be condemned. One critic writes: "The kind of overwrought and hysterical rhetoric from that Facebook page not only doesn't advance the cause of gay equality, it actually retards it by needlessly antagonizing the very people we need to persuade."
Whatever the case, the page epitomizes the passion this issue stirs -- and suggests strongly that it will return to the Colorado legislature in the future.
More from our Politics archive: "Chris Romer wins Denver Post mayoral endorsement -- but does that mean anything?"