On Tuesday, the Colorado House of Representatives voted 39-26 to pass the "Colorado Civil Unions Act." The legislation, when signed by the governor, will take effect on May 1st and will provide legal recognition for lesbian and gay couples throughout the state. For a state that failed to pass a similar act in 2012, and that passed a constitutional ban on marriage for gay and lesbian couples in 2006, Tuesday's vote serves as a testament to progress.
When the final vote was read, an audible whoop of support issued from the House floor. While this act undoubtedly means progress for Colorado, it falls short of full equality. Along with the rest of the nation, gay and lesbian Colorado residents are looking toward the Supreme Court rulings on DOMA and California's Proposition 8 at the end of the month to see what their futures might hold. If the Supreme Court rules state bans on marriage equality to be inconsistent with the national constitution, Colorado may find itself, along with the remaining 41 states that have yet to legalize marriage for all couples, staring at an even more exciting reality.
So long as marriage is restricted to straight couples in the United States, civil unions will never be enough for the LGBT community. Injustice in any state is a threat to justice in every state.
Anti-gay activists in Colorado are already protesting the Civil Unions Act passage, claiming that the legislation stands as a direct threat to their religious liberty. What anti-LGBT religious people across the nation seem to miss is that their liberty is in no way threatened by the securing of equality for gay and lesbian couples. While religious persons are entitled to practice sexism, racism, and homophobia in their places of worship, they have no right to weaponize their insensitivity and injustice in the public square in order to further marginalize LGBT Americans.
In an historic statement, President Obama said this week in an interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos that he cannot imagine a future in which state bans on marriage equality stand as constitutional: "That’s part of the reason I said, ultimately, I think that, same-sex couples should be able to marry. That’s my personal position. And, frankly, that’s the position that’s reflected -- in the briefs that we filed -- in the Supreme Court."
GLAAD is actively working with the Respect for Marriage Coalition, as well as with the United for Marriage coordinating team, to bring your voice to DC and make sure you are fully represented and informed. It is time for our nation's highest court to ensure that lesbian and gay couples are treated fairly under the law. Find an upcoming event near you to make clear your support for marriage equality. Visit www.glaad.org/marriage to learn more, and join us in Washington D.C. on March 26 and 27.