John Hickenlooper: Special session would move state forward to justice

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My nephew in Chicago has a sudden interest in Colorado politics, and he's been closely following the progress of the civil union bill at the legislature -- a proposal resurrected yesterday when Governor John Hickenlooper said he would call a special session to debate the issue.

The governor's words echoed sentiments that were all over the news yesterday from President Barack Obama, who'd revealed that his position on same-sex marriage has evolved during an interview that will air on Good Morning America today: "I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors, when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together; when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that 'don't ask, don't tell' is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I've just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married," Obama told Robin Roberts.

In announcing that he would call a special session, Hickenlooper offered this: "I think our goal is to make sure we do everything we can to try to make sure there is a fair, open debate on the floor of the House and the Senate, that the issue gets discussed and that we allow people the chance to vote on it," he said, "and that we move this entire state forward to make sure, as Martin Luther King said, 'The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.'"

Last fall my nephew, who is gay, committed to his partner in a ceremony made possible under Illinois's Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act, which allows all couples -- not just same sex couples, but opposite sex couples, too -- to enter into civil unions.

Now he and his partner want to move to here -- and they're exactly the sort of people who're touted by demographers as the most desirable new residents -- but they're waiting to see if this state will follow Illinois's lead. My nephew's parents -- my brother and his wife -- didn't face the same dilemma when they decided to move to Colorado from Illinois a decade ago: This state recognizes their commitment.

It's past time for Colorado to make its own commitment to civil rights. Is everyone moving to Colorado? According to the Brookings Institute, Denver attracted more 25- to-34-year-olds than any other metro area over the last three years. Read why this state deserves the title "Coolerado" here.

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Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


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