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Future of Colorado civil unions hinges on state house, senate victories

Future of Colorado civil unions hinges on state house, senate victories

While there isn’t an explicit referendum on Tuesday’s ballot asking Colorado voters whether the state’s same-sex partners should have legal relationship recognition, the immediate fate of a bill that would establish such will be decided in less than 48 hours — two months before lawmakers meet to discuss the matter.

If Colorado voters elect more Democrats than Republicans to represent them in the state Senate and House, gay and lesbian couples would be wise to begin planning their civil union ceremonies now. If the Republican party maintains or grows its majority in the House, 33-32, or wins enough seats to claim the majority in the Senate, unlikely, but possible, the honeymoon could be put on hold for up to four years.

That’s why three organizations — One Colorado, Fight Back Colorado and CitizenLink — have raised more than $318,000 in hopes to influence enough races to ensure candidates who support their ideology and position on the bill are in place come Jan. 9 when the Colorado General Assembly opens its 2013 regular session.

And most of that money has either been donated from individuals in other states or, because of federal tax law does not need to be disclosed, according to campaign finance reports Out Front reviewed for all three organizations.

In-state donations to One Colorado’s small donor committee by city
Green= $0-$50 Blue= $51-$99 Purple= $100 – $999 Yellow= $1,000-$9,999 Red= $10,000+

One Colorado, the state’s largest advocacy organization, has, since May, raised $18,288 in small donations. About 500 people — nearly all from Colorado — have contributed so that One Colorado could support candidates they believe will vote for the civil union bill if they’re elected.

The largest bloc was raised at the organization’s Uncivil Soiree party held after the 2012 legislature’s dramatic conclusion saw the death of the civil union bill and a special session that adjourned as quickly as it opened.

The civil union bill was sponsored by gay Denver Democrats state Sen. Pat Steadman and Rep. Mark Ferrandino in both 2011 and 2012. A Republican House committee killed the bill in 2011.

Out-of-state donations to One Colorado’s small donor committee total less than $1,000.

More than half of the money raised by the small donor committee — $10,308 — came from donors living in Denver. About another $7,000 came from cities up and down the Front Range (Boulder being the second largest bloc of donations) and the Western Slope. No donations were recorded from the eastern plains.

One Colorado has donated to an almost Democratic-exclusive slate of candidates including $1,000 to Reps. Daniel Kagan, D-Cherry Hills, and Pete Lee, D-Colorado Springs. They’ve also donated to Democratic candidates Brittany Pettersen and Tracy Kraft-Tharp. All four are a part of the most closely watched races that will determine the balance of power at the General Assembly.

Republican Rep. Cheri Gerou, R-Evergreen, received $400 from One Colorado’s small donor committee. Her district is considered safe for the GOP.

Continue reading at Out Front Colorado

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