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Posted at 11:04 AM ET, 05/14/2012

Colorado's civil union showdown

"We're Not Done. And God is Far, Far from Done."

That was the message line on the Rev. Mark Tidd's e-mail to members of Highlands Church, an evangelical congregation in Denver. Sent two days after Republicans in the state House killed a bill allowing gay couples to form civil unions, Tidd wasn't congratulating his Christian parishioners on a victory won, but urging them to keep up the
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, has called a special session of the Colorado House to vote on civil unions for same-sex couples.
fight for gay rights.

Tidd and other Coloradans could probably identify with President Obama's discussion of his "evolution" when he announced his support for gay marriage last week. 

Six years after the state's voters enacted a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and rejected civil unions for gay couples, there are enough votes in Colorado's legislature to make civil unions legal — if the bill can get to the House floor.

Angry at the stalling techniques House leaders used to kill the bill last week, supporters successfully lobbied Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) to call a special session.

Monday, Colorado lawmakers reconvene to take up civil unions, as well as several other bills killed as a byproduct of last week’s stall.

The measure will make it through the Democratically-controlled state Senate handily. There, in the past two years, all three women Republican senators have joined Democrats in supporting the measure. They've given passionate floor speeches about respecting individual rights and showing compassion for gay friends and family. 

Mary C. Curtis wrote last week about the evolution in thinking on this topic for Obama and others. And Tidd tells of an evolution that began for him seven years ago, while counseling the parents of a transgender child, and resulted in what he calls his "defrocking" in March 2010 by the Christian Reformed Church.

"Things are moving really rapidly, and I think a huge part of that is that it's safe enough for a lot more people to be out," he said. "It's sort of killing the mystique or, if you will, the propagandizement of gay people as an entity we ought to protect our children from. More people are saying, 'No, my aunt is gay, I'm not scared of her.' "

An April survey by Public Policy Polling indicated that 62 percent of Coloradans surveyed favor civil unions. Another poll sponsored by One Colorado, an LGTB advocacy group, found that 72 percent of 1,000 voters surveyed in January support legal recognition of same-sex couples.

"This is no longer a red or a blue issue," said Brad Clark, executive director of One Colorado. "This is an issue that a vast number of Colorado voters support."

In Colorado, Clark predicts the issue could influence this fall's elections and threaten the GOP's one-vote majority in the House.

Sandra Fish teaches journalism at the University of Colorado and has reported on politics in Iowa, Florida and Colorado. Follow her on Twitter at @fishnette

By  |  11:04 AM ET, 05/14/2012

Tags:  Colorado, civil unions, gay marriage, 2012 election

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