|Coat of Arms|
Voice your support for marriage and thank these lawmakers
Colorado’s House Judiciary Committee members let a “civil unions” bill die in committee last week. A Senate version of the bill establishing the legality of same-sex civil unions—SB 172—had already passed. But the House Judiciary Committee needed to approve the Senate version of the bill and pass it along for further House debate.
In the face of unfriendly media coverage and heavy political pressure, opponents of the legislation did the right thing. They challenged and tabled the bill, killing it for this session. That sounds like a small act, but it took courage, especially in an environment of bitter criticism. The committee members who opposed the bill deserve our gratitude and support.
Christians believe in the dignity of all human life, without exception. But the civil unions debate is not about ensuring the basic rights of homosexual persons. Those rights are already guaranteed under law. Nor is it finally about love or personal equality. Civil unions ensure neither of these any better than marriage does.
The civil unions debate is finally about securing legitimacy for social arrangements and personal behaviors that most societies and religious traditions have found problematic from long experience—and that a great many people see as morally troubling, not because they are “haters” or “frightened” or “bigots” or “uneducated”—that kind of language is the real bigotry in this debate—but because they’ve carefully thought through the implications for society at large.
Senate Bill 172, quite shrewdly, did not limit its definition of “civil unions” to same-sex couples. But same-sex couples would inevitably be the main beneficiaries—as was obvious even at the committee hearings. It’s also worth noting that in every state where civil unions have become law, the political pressure for “gay marriage” has not declined; it has increased. Same-sex unions, whatever legal form they take, cannot create new life. They cannot duplicate the love of a man and woman. But they do copy marriage and family, and in the process, they compete with and diminish the uniquely important status of both.
Unfortunately, we’ve been down this road before. In 2006, Coloradans statewide voted strongly in favor of traditional marriage and against domestic partnerships. The people of Colorado spoke quite clearly. But it wasn’t what certain interests wanted to hear. This is why the civil unions issue will likely be back, whether Coloradans like it or not. One of the lessons we need to learn from California’s continuing Proposition 8 battle is that when it comes to the cultural struggle over marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships, the “will of the people” is rarely sovereign. On the contrary: The mass media, the courts and aggressive special interests treat an annoying popular vote as not much more than modeling clay that needs to be reworked.
Colorado is no exception. In its intended effect, SB 172 tried to circumvent the results of 2006. This attempt failed. Others will follow. And that means that Coloradans who want to ensure and protect the privileged status of marriage need to remain actively engaged in the discussion.
Along with this week’s column (see column at right), you’ll find contact information for the House Judiciary Committee members who voted against civil unions. Please take the time to contact them, thank them and encourage them with your support. And please voice your support for marriage and your opposition to civil unions in contacting your own state senator and representative. This is the kind of issue that can influence the future for decades. What you think, what you say and what you do today matters.
Most Rev. Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M., Cap. is the archbishop of Denver. To read more from Archbishop Chaput, click here.
CONTACT House Judiciary Committee MEMBERS
Listed below are the members of the committee that opposed the civil union legislation. Please thank them for their courageous vote to protect marriage in Colorado.
Representative Bob Gardner, Chair