Andrew Belonsky writes for Towleroad:
Republican leaders in Colorado have formed a group called Coloradans for Freedom to fight for civil unions there.
“The point is not to create conflict within the Republican Party,” one of the organizers, local attorney Mario Nicolais, told the Denver Post. “It is to provide resources to people interested in the conservative argument for civil unions.”
Civil unions passed the state’s Senate last year, but were squashed by a House panel, setting the stage for another legislative fight for the upcoming session. As lawmakers return to work, Coloradans for Freedom will hold a cocktail party headlines by former State Rep. Rob Witwer, a high-profile advocate for civil unions who frames his arguments as a matter of “human freedom.”
Discussing the new organization, Witwer used distinctly “choice” oriented language. “In my mind, there’s nothing inconsistent with being a Republican and supporting the rights of gay people to live as they choose,” he said. “I would like gay people who believe in limited government and fiscal responsibility to know they still have a home in the Republican Party.”
After the defeat of civil unions legislation in the Colorado General Assembly last session, some Republicans like Sen. Shawn Mitchell expressed…well, not exactly remorse over their “no” votes, but at least a possible willingness to consider the issue again the next time it comes up. As we’ve discussed in this space, polling on the issue of civil unions for gays and lesbians has shifted dramatically in recent years, and public support for civil unions is reaching the point of becoming a serious liability for its conservative, traditionally GOP opponents.
And, of course, those new legislative district maps really do call for the kind of recently-discovered moderation you’re seeing from “Coloradans for Freedom.” So there at least could be very, well, practical considerations at work here. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Though unfortunately, on the same day as the new moderate Republican campaign in favor of civil unions gets deservedly glowing press, arch-conservative Sen. Kevin Lundberg also made news–announcing the latest iteration of a “divorce waiting period” bill. Reportedly, Lundberg hopes that his pet “family values” legislation might do better this year, since he had the presence of mind to exempt victims of violence and sexual abuse. How charitable of him!
We could go on–for example, we haven’t heard yet how Sen. Scott Renfroe thinks this GOP-for-gay-rights thing squares with the Book of Leviticus, but given that he equated being gay with “murder” and “all sorts of sin,” we wouldn’t hold our breath for a favorable opinion. But at a certain level, any move by any Republican to start walking back the decades of hateful rhetoric that places them increasingly on the distasteful fringes of public opinion should be applauded.
Maybe someday, Republicans standing up for gay rights won’t seem so, you know, so weird.