New York’s passage of marriage equality legislation in June has been an inspiration to state lawmakers in other parts of the country.
Enthusiasm is growing in Colorado that their General Assembly may take bold steps toward legalizing gay marriage. Currently, the state offers neither marriage nor civil unions to same-sex couples. Lawmakers did, however, offer domestic partnership benefits to state employees and their families this year as a way to preserve their skilled workforce. The bill was signed into law in May by Gov. Bill Ritter, a Democrat.
“It [the domestic partnerships law] is an important piece of legislation that will help make sure the state can attract and retain good employees and compete with the private sector,” Democratic state Rep. Mark Ferrandino said.
The win for domestic partnerships, however, is small in comparison to what Ferrandino and gay activists across the state hope to achieve for same-sex couples. The legislature came close to securing a victory for civil unions this year, but were not able to secure enough Republican votes for passage.
Ferrandino and other leaders are putting pressure on Republicans to change their minds. He cited Republicans in New York, such as Rep. Mark Grisanti, whose vote was critical to the close passage of the bill.
“I cannot deny a person, a human being, a worker … people across this state … the same rights I have with my wife,” Grisanti said last month about his vote in New York. The state senator also cited his training as an attorney as a reason he could not argue against marriage for same-sex couples. Three additional Republican state senators voted with Grisanti for same-sex marriage rights.
In Colorado, Ferrandino has made bringing marriage equality to the Centennial State a priority. He has been active in the media for LGBT issues, particularly since the June 24 passage of the New York gay marriage law.
“Hopefully, vote will give Republican House leadership more courage to make it happen here,” Ferrandino said after New York became the sixth state to offer marriage to same-sex couples.
One hope for Colorado is that their General Assembly makeup is similar to that of New York. Both are led by Democratic governors who push for marriage equality. They also both have one legislative chamber that is controlled by Republicans and the other by Democrats. In Colorado, the House is in GOP hands while the Senate is run by Democrats.
Until marriage equality happens in Colorado, Ferrandino and others will remain persistent. As he told FOX 31 in Denver earlier this year about gay marriage and civil unions in Colorado, “It isn’t a matter of if, but when.”