Legislator tells why he switched on civil unions bill
By Nissa LaPoint
Sometimes even our state’s top leaders decide to change their position.
State Rep. Kevin Priola, R-Adams, has served his constituents as a mainstream conservative since 2009. Yet on the question of legalizing civil unions in Colorado, Priola said he considered supporting it—until two weeks ago.
When Gov. John Hickenlooper called for a special legislative session that convened last week, Priola said he decided the wording of the civil unions bill and surrounding politics had crossed the line.
“I just realized that this is more about politics and fundraising,” Priola said. “In the end, I felt it was about disrespecting the traditional marriage covenant.”
Priola called Hickenlooper’s decision to convene the Colorado General Assembly in order to vote on bills not addressed in regular session—including Senate Bill 2 that would allow same-sex couples to enter into civil unions—a blatant politicalization of the issue.
The bill was shot down May 14 in the State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee before it reached the House floor for a vote during the special session.
The Colorado Catholic Conference, the public policy organization that serves the dioceses of Colorado, opposed the bill calling it gay marriage under a different name. The Catholic Church opposes same-sex marriage because it violates the natural law and God’s intended unitive and procreative purposes for marriage.
Priola, who attends Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Northglenn, said there was an absence of discussion and negotiation on the bill. Although he said he is for equality and rights among all citizens—he voted for a designated beneficiaries bill in 2009—he realized the language of the civil unions bill was akin to marriage, and therefore in violation of the state statute defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
“It wasn’t one thing, but it was an aggregation of things,” Priola said.
The conference said Catholics should remain vigilant in opposing civil unions and same-sex marriage. It is expected that a similar form of the bill will return in the next legislative session.