DENVER — Save the date: Jan. 5, 2012. That’s the day the debate on civil unions here will get a whole lot more interesting.
A group of Colorado conservatives are having a coming out party.
Coming out for civil unions, that is.
Organized in part by Republican strategist Kristin Strohm of the Starboard Group, Coloradans For Freedom, hope to make one thing clear: civil unions should become law and conservative values are 100 percent in line with this legislation.
Mario Nicolais, the spokesman for the group released this statement to Out Front Colorado:
Coloradans for Freedom supports civil unions for the same reasons that we support the ideals of conservatism and limited government. We believe that free people should be free to make fundamental choices about how to live their lives without the interference of government.
We know that there are people of good faith within the conservative movement that take a different view, but just the same we believe it is important for the public and policy makers to know that many conservatives stand on the side of freedom in the civil union debate. We will not be participating as a group in local primaries.
We are dyed-in-the-wool conservatives from all walks who believe in American Exceptionalism, the War on Terror, the Taxpayers Bill of Rights in Colorado, the Ryan Plan in DC and we’ll do everything we can to make sure President Obama doesn’t get 4 more years. We believe that government shouldn’t put its nose where it doesn’t have a place, which is why we are proud to stand for civil unions here in this state.
While it’s unclear at this time exactly what role Coloradans for Freedom will play in the debate at the Capitol or in the 2012 election — more details are forthcoming — this is no doubt a game changer. Why? Because now there is an identified pool of potential donors and allies within the GOP to provide “cover” for lawmakers who vote for civil unions but are afraid they could lose support from their base that may not forgive them politically for supporting civil unions.
Earlier this year, the civil union bill introduced by gay Denver Democrats Sen. Pat Steadman and Rep. Mark Ferrandino was stopped in its tracks March 31 at a House Judiciary Committee. The bill had previously cleared the Senate with bipartisan support from Republican Sens. Jean White, Ellen Roberts and Nancy Spence.
Roberts and Spence have signed onto Coloradans for Freedom.
Steadman will re-introduce the bill in the 2012 General Assembly. Ferrandino has dropped his name from the bill, “inviting” a Republican to carry the legislation.
Other high-profile Republicans who have joined Coloradans for Freedom include: Kelly Maher, Mary Smith, former state Rep. Rob Witwer, Marcia Garcia Berry and Sean Duffy. Also on board are gay Republicans, Michael Carr, Troy Ard and Alexander Hornaday.