Civil unions like marrying a sheep or a horse?: GOP goes forward into the past

It's 2006 all over again. That was the year that Coloradans passed a constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between one man and one woman. It was also the year when lieutenant governor candidate Janet Rowland, when discussing same-sex marriage, uttered this: "Do we allow a man to marry a sheep?"

It wasn't the first time that someone had decided to equate same-sex marriage with bestiality, and given the level of discordant discourse over the death of the civil-unions bill at the Colorado Legislature, it won't be the last.

When Clela Rorex was Boulder's clerk and recorder in the mid-'70s, she issued marriage licenses to a handful of same-sex couples -- the first official in the country to do so. Homosexuality was big news in Boulder back in 1975, and then-mayor Penfield Tate had warned Rorex, who was just sworn in that January, about the issue of same-sex marriage coming up. Two months later it did, when two men were directed to her office by a conservative clerk in Colorado Springs. "They do that kind of thing in Boulder," the clerk told them.

"It felt like it was the right thing to do, but I couldn't have articulated why in 1975," Rorex recalled in 2006, when Rowland made her pronouncement and Amendment 45 made the ballot. "Over all of these years, I've watched this issue because of the place I was at that time -- the accidental moment of history I was involved in -- and I've grown to become a real staunch crusader for same-sex marriages. I'm continually surprised that it has taken so long for people to give equal rights to same-sex partnerships."

But not surprised by the level of crackpots this issue brings out. On April 15, 1975, the late Rosell Howard, a notorious media hound, showed up in front of the Boulder clerk's office with both a horse trailer and the media in tow, and posed this question for the cameras: "If a boy can marry a boy and a girl can marry a girl, why can't a lonesome old cowboy get hitched to his favorite saddle mare?"

The moment Rorex spotted Howard, she knew what he was up to. So when he walked in and told Rorex that he'd like to marry Dolly, his horse, she went over the marriage-license application line by line. And when she got to the line about age, and Howard said that his intended was just eight, Rorex had to break the news that the horse was too young to marry without written parental consent.

Just say neigh.

Just four months ago, when John Hickenlooper delivered his "State of the State" address at the Colorado Legislature, complete with a call for civil-union legisation, spirits -- and hopes -- were high. Read about it in our post "John Hickenlooper: Hat's off to Colorado's entrepreneurial spirit."

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