Legislators’ opposition to civil unions rooted in homophobia and intolerance

A week ago, a Republican-dominated committee in the Colorado legislature voted 6-5 to allow Senate Bill 2 to move forward. Tuesday, knowing that if debated before the full House, the bill would have passed, Republicans killed the bill, as shouts of “Shame on you! Shame on you!” reverberated from the gallery.

If it had become law, the bill would have allowed same-sex couples to enter into civil unions and Colorado would have become the ninth state to take similar actions.

I’m crossing my fingers we can soon move beyond Colorado’s reputation as the “hate state,” but why is progress taking so long when the opposing arguments are so contrived and self-incriminating?

Every time this debate moves back into the headlines, I sit back and enjoy watching the anti-equality forces try to make their arguments without revealing their homophobia.

“It erodes religious freedom,” some say. How on God’s green Earth does a civil union prevent anyone from the free exercise of their religion? And as far as I know, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution doesn’t give anyone the right to impose their religion’s rules on others.

“Homosexuality is immoral,” some say. What’s moral versus immoral is a bottomless pit of debate, particularly in divided Colorado. Blessedly, the majority of Coloradans believe discrimination against any particular group, however they might be defined, is just plain wrong.

“It threatens the institution of marriage,” some say. As I wrote in this column around the time of Colorado Amendment 43 (the “definition of marriage” debacle, another Jim Crow-like initiative), this argument seems to suggest that one day we’ll wake up to find the institution of marriage gone. How can anyone take such a statement seriously?

“A man-woman relationship provides the best family environment for children,” some say. Any marriage — straight or gay — where the parents encourage acceptance and decency, and discourage discrimination and hatred, is the ideal environment for children.

The anti-civil union forces have no choice but to hide behind such convoluted language. If they were honest about their motivations, they’d sound ignoble and selfish, because what they’re really saying is: “We don’t like people who aren’t like us.”

The solution lies beyond a very simple question: If any two people — straight, gay, black, orange, Buddhist, Peruvian, octagonal, or any combination thereof — want to unite for life, and enjoy equal privileges as other couples united for life, how does that hurt anybody else?

We have a lesbian couple in our neighborhood we meet up with every Halloween to laugh up a storm. We also have a heterosexual couple in our neighborhood; the man has cocktail coasters wedged in his earlobes and the woman believes Jesus is back and selling Coney dogs from a cart in Brooklyn.

Both couples “aren’t like us,” but they have every God-given right to be together.

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