Ballot plan in works to outlaw gay marriage in Colorado
DENVER ” The evangelical Christian ministry Focus on the Family says it will try to put a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in Colorado on the ballot in 2006.
Plans still are in the early stages and other organizers have yet to be recruited, spokesman Paul Hetrick told The Denver Post on Thursday.
The ministry based in Colorado Springs will not lead the effort, but participate in a broad coalition.
Last November, 11 states outlawed same-sex marriage. Focus on the Family is supporting similar measures in about 15 other states over the next two years, said Tom Minnery, the group’s vice president of public policy.
Minnery said a ballot initiative in Colorado makes sense because Democrats won control of both chambers of the Legislature for the first time in more than 40 years last fall.
In 2000, lawmakers and Gov. Bill Owens approved a “Defense of Marriage Act” restricting marriage between one man and one woman. Minnery said a constitutional amendment is needed because the statute could be easily overturned in court or by the Legislature.
“We’ve found it’s a better thing to get it written into the constitution,” Minnery said.
Gay-rights advocates said they can make a strong case that the measure isn’t needed and is really a ploy to mobilize conservative voters for wider purposes, said Michael Brewer, public policy director of the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Community Center of Colorado.
Julie Tolleson, spokeswoman for Equal Rights Colorado, a gay and lesbian lobbying group, called the proposed amendment partisan politics.
“In a time with all of these important policy issues, people just can’t get gays and lesbians off their minds,” she said. “Or they realize more political hay can be made of this. It saddens to me to think of another hateful and divisive ballot fight.”
Amendment 2, which would have barred laws protecting gays from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, was approved by voters in 1992 and overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1996. During the fight, Colorado was labeled a “hate state” and hit with tourism boycotts.
The Rev. Ted Haggard, pastor of 11,000-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs, said he believes marriage is a union between a man and woman rooted in centuries of tradition. He said research proves it also the family unit for children to be raised in.
“This would not undermine anyone’s civil liberties,” said Haggard, who also is president of the National Association of Evangelicals.
Some states simply ban gay marriage, though some are considering going further. In April, Kansas voters will consider an amendment that would bar not only gay marriage but civil unions and domestic partnerships.
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