Nancy Polikoff

Something's Up in Colorado

Filed By Nancy Polikoff | February 05, 2009 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Colorado, partner registration, unmarried straight and gay couples

Thanks to my colleague, Tony Varona, for alerting me to new legislation introduced in Colorado allowing two unmarried people to designate each other as entitled to make medical decisions, inherit, sue for wrongful death, and more, through use of a simple form.

I discussed an earlier Colorado effort along these lines in my book. The previous proposal, however, was not open to unmarried heterosexual couples. I said in the book, and I'll say again here, that any scheme that omits unmarried heterosexual couples reinforces the supremacy of marriage. It tells straight people that if they want to protect the economic or emotional security of their families they need to marry. And it tells everyone else that they have second-rate families and relationships, and since they can't marry the state will throw them some kind of bone.

Sure enough. The article reporting this legislation quotes a sponsor of the previous bill, Senator Shawn Mitchell, as opposed to this one because it includes different-sex couples. That, he says, dilutes marriage. Good thing, I say. And here's what a whole lot of Colorado folks have to say about the bill.

Crossposted from Beyond Straight and Gay Marriage.

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Things are happening in Texas, too.

Equality Texas will have a Lobby Day at the state capitol on March 2 to help push some good bills, like:

HB 538 by Villarreal:
Caption: Relating to the prohibition of employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

Excerpt: SECTION 3. Section 21.052, Labor Code, is amended to read as follows: Sec. 21.052. DISCRIMINATION BY EMPLOYMENT AGENCY. An employment agency commits an unlawful employment practice if the employment agency: (1) fails or refuses to refer for employment or discriminates in any other manner against an individual because of race, color, disability, religion, sex, national origin, [or] age, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression; or (2) classifies or refers an individual for ...

To read the text of the bill:

and HB 353 regarding healthcare rights for domestic partners, HB 197 prohibiting certain insurance discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, HB 616 the James Byrd Hate Crimes Act, and more.

Be in Austin March 2 with Equality Texas to show everybody we care.

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | February 5, 2009 6:30 PM

Nancy, I haven't read your book (my loss, I'm sure) but if my recollection serves me the prior effort even had the general endorsement of James Dobson, and that got him in deep doo-doo with folks even more to the Right than he is (I hear there actually are, although not all of the votes have been tallied). Am I correct in that?

The bill you are thinking about was SB-166, Sen. Shawn Mitchell was the sponsor. It was a bill to consolidate available legal paperwork, medical powers etc, in one stop. It cost money beyond the lawyers fee's for drafting the documents.
166 did nothing beyond consolidating, not bringing GLBT people to equality.
The bill was only written to compete with the bills that became Referendum I, the effort to provide for same sex equality like marriage. The same year the Dobson people, with others ike them, had Inititive to define in the colorado Constitution "one man, one woman".
The bill Mitchell sponsored was endorsed by Dobson in the political moves trying to get it passed in the General Assembly. It failed.
At the time I was on the board of Equal Rights Colorado, and involved in all of this.

Quite right about Dobson. But he also made totally clear that the reason he supported it was that heterosexual couples were excluded. Not wanting to dilute marriage and all that.

Lots of states seem to be considering this route to benefits for same-sex couples. I'm cool with the incremental approach for the heartland states that aren't going to flip suddenly liberal.

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | February 6, 2009 9:47 AM

Bil, you flaming, Quisling (well maybe just one of those!) Desciple of Unabashed Incrementalism. Watch for the shelling. (as the strains of "all or nothing at all" permeate the wintry air)

Just to be clear, I don't think of this approach as incrementalism. I'm not looking to get a few things until we get marriage. I am looking to make marriage matter less as a legal matter -- for gay and straight people alike. Anything that does not make marriage the dividing line between who is in and who is out is good from my point of view. Getting marriage for same-sex couples is a whole other thing. I like it LESS when we get marriage but then only gay couples who marry are "in" and others, including many types of relationships in the LGBT community, are "out."