Published in The Denver Post on May 18, 2012
When the Colorado Civil Union Act failed in the legislature for the second time in less than a week on Monday, it rightfully left many people disappointed. But they shouldn't be dismayed. Equal rights don't always come immediately, but always come eventually.
When the civil union bill died, it also ensured that the mission of Coloradans for Freedom, a conservative Republican organization advocating for civil unions, would live on. Simply put, we will keep fighting for civil union legislation in Colorado, making the conservative argument to pass them until they become a reality in our state.
Unfortunately, in the wake of the civil union bill's death, people immediately began to lay blame. And there seems to be plenty to go around. Democrats can be blamed for failing to bring the legislation during the four years from 2006 to 2010 when they controlled all levels of the state government. Republicans can be blamed for employing procedural tricks to deny an up-or-down vote on the state House floor.
But blame is a political parlor game. It is for those who are unable and unwilling to move on. And it keeps those focused on laying blame from analyzing what has been lost and what has been gained.
For us, the loss is easy to identify: a missed opportunity to provide equal rights to all Colorado citizens and to put a conservative stamp on civil rights.
More easily overlooked is what was gained. Conservatives supporting civil unions gained heroes like Reps. B.J. Nikkel, Don Beezley and Cheri Gerou. Also, Sens. Ellen Roberts, Nancy Spence and Jean White. And, in the form of Coloradans for Freedom, conservatives gained an aggregate voice to support civil unions that had never existed before.
We will continue to fight for two primary objectives. First, to help ensure Republican majorities in both legislative chambers. As conservatives and Republicans, we share the belief that our state needs the strong fiscal principles of Republicans to address the weak economy and allow businesses to create more jobs.
Importantly, unlike some of the fringe anti-equal rights groups that in the past delighted in threatening divisive primaries and spent money to suppress general election votes for Republicans they disagreed with, we will never engage in those types of petulant antics. We will try to educate and change the minds of those who disagree, but never seek retribution at the expense of general election losses.
Second, we will work to ensure those Republican majorities include pro-equality majorities that will support civil unions. We will help Republicans who support civil unions to victory in November. We will also continue to provide additional conservative arguments in favor of civil unions to be used by conservative candidates on the campaign trail.
Thankfully, those two goals â a Republican majority and a pro-equality majority â no longer seem mutually exclusive. Due to the change in debate around civil unions, it is more likely than ever that a conservative Republican majority would pass civil union legislation, especially as more officeholders and candidates become persuaded by our arguments every day.
The civil rights titan Medger Evers said, "You can kill a bill, but you cannot kill an idea." And in conservative circles, the ideas supporting civil unions continue to live on and grow.