O’Reilly Backpedals on Ferrandino Smears, Weakly and Too Late

Video of the O'Reilly Factor courtesy Media Matters:

Yesterday, FOX News' Bill O'Reilly responded to a blistering opinion piece in the Denver Post this weekend, where editorial page editor Curtis Hubbard responds to recent segments from O'Reilly about Colorado House Speaker Mark Ferrandino regarding civil unions and the death of a GOP bill insituting lengthy minimum sentences for first-time child sex offenders. Hubbard says that "O'Reilly's fear-mongering should offend all Coloradans. He was saying 'gay,' but what he wanted his listeners to hear was 'pervert-pedophile.'"

O'Reilly is hurt by this accusation, folks. Hurt.

O'REILLY: We described the speaker as "openly gay" because Americans don't know who he is and that description is used in almost every article ever written about him. And the reason we brought up civil unions is because Ferrandino objected to that vote being sabotaged by Republicans a few years ago, then he turned around and used the same technique to table Jessica's Law.

As we've recounted in this space, O'Reilly said much more than that. In these segments attacking Colorado House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, O'Reilly's obvious implication was that Ferrandino had sent "Jessica's Law" to its death in the State Affairs "kill committee" as retaliation for Republicans killing the civil unions bill in State Affairs during last year's special session of the legislature. As everyone in Colorado knows, Democrats swept the GOP from power in 2012, which is the only "retaliation" that mattered. What's more, Colorado already has very tough sentencing laws for crimes of this nature, sufficiently that both prosecutors and victims' rights groups opposed the bill.

Perhaps the worst was O'Reilly's interview with GOP state Rep. Libby Szabo, where Szabo flat-out claimed to O'Reilly that Ferrandino was "obviously protecting somebody" with the killing of "Jessica's Law." Between that statement and everything O'Reilly said about Ferrandino's sexual preference and motives, it's unmistakable what impression he wanted his millions of conservative viewers to have.

O'Reilly should just own up to these allegations. Whatever he says now, he left no ambiguity about them.

Civil Unions: A Long Legislative Journey That Ends Today

FOX 31's Eli Stokols:

On Monday morning, the Colorado House of Representatives did something it has never done before, debating the civil unions bill that’s been introduced for three straight years.

The debate could have happened at the end of last year’s session, after civil unions survived three successive hearings before GOP-controlled committees, but then Speaker Frank McNulty shut down the House floor on the session’s penultimate day, effectively running out the clock on the bill and 30 others.

“This marks the first day in my time here that the full House will debate civil unions,” said the sponsor, Rep. Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, who became the current House Speaker after Democrats swept competitive statehouse races last fall just months after the legislative meltdown over civil unions.

“This bill is about love, family and equality under the law.”

Final passage in the state House of Representatives of the Colorado Civil Union Act today marks the completion of a legislative campaign to enact basic rights for the state's gay and lesbian couples that began in 2006, when the Democratic-controlled legislature sent Referendum I to the ballot bypassing GOP Gov. Bill Owens. That referendum narrowly failed, and a constitutional gay marriage ban, Amendment 43, passed that year: even as Democrats celebrated the second in what would become an unparalleled string of electoral victories in 2006, this election was a also a nadir for LGBT equality advocates in Colorado.

Since then, there have been many changes.

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O’Reilly Smearing of Mark Ferrandino Continues

UPDATE #3: Let the record show that KDVR FOX 31 is not the national FOX News. Eli Stokols:

In the segment, the reporter demands that Ferrandino explain how he could oppose mandatory sentences for first-time child molesters and cites a few cases in which predators have done minimal jail time.

But it’s O’Reilly’s repeated mentioning of Ferrandino’s sexual orientation, which would seem to have little relevance to an issue of criminal justice, in both on-air segments that has Colorado Democrats upset. [Pols emphasis]

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UPDATE #2: Colorado Democratic Party chairman Rick Palacio hits back hard at Bill O'Reilly moments ago:

Republicans are attacking Ferrandino for opposing a bill that would tie the hands of prosecutors who are trying to convict child predators. Colorado has some of the toughest penalties in the country for convicted child molesters, and our district attorneys have flexibility to make the best prosecution possible in each case. Colorado prosecutors and victims' rights groups stand with Speaker Ferrandino for smart and tough law enforcement, but that isn't stopping Republicans.
 
Instead, they are lobbing some of the most vile, homophobic attacks you will ever see. [Pols emphasis] Bill O'Reilly and his Republican allies are insinuating that our State House Speaker protects child predators because he is gay. If there is a more vicious smear they could try, it's hard to imagine what it could even be.

It's a relief to see this isn't being taken passively. With O'Reilly and co-smear Rep. Libby Szabo, it should not be.
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UPDATE: FOX News-dogging Media Matters for America weighs in:

During the February 22 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly criticized Ferrandino for opposing "Jessica's Law," a measure that would impose a 25-year sentence on those found guilty of sexually assaulting children. Law enforcement experts and victims' advocates in Colorado have deemed Jessica's Law unnecessary, noting that current Colorado laws "already go beyond what Jessica's law mandates."

During the segment, O'Reilly joined Colorado Rep. Libby Szabo (R-27) in attempting to link Ferrandino's opposition to the bill to his homosexuality and support for civil unions. O'Reilly also promised to hold Ferrandino "personally responsible," threatening that his life would soon "take a turn for the worse…"

And now, Bill O'Reilly is doing his very worst to keep that promise.
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Think Progress picks up on a story we started covering over a week ago, the newfound interest from host Bill O'Reilly in Speaker of the Colorado House Mark Ferrandino–now the target of a campaign on O'Reilly's show linking Ferrandino's support for civil unions with both his personal life and the killing of a perennial GOP bill pertaining to child predators. As posted this morning: 

As expected, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly is continuing his smear campaign against Colorado House Speaker Mark Ferrandino (D), who is openly gay, because of his opposition to instituting “Jessica’s Law,” which imposes excessive mandatory sentences for first-time offenders of child molesters…Colorado already has harsh sentencing for sex offenders and nobody — not even the law enforcement community or victims’ advocates groups — supports changing the laws. But that hasn’t stopped O’Reilly from pursuing his campaign against Ferrandino, who he plans to hold “personally responsible” for the bill’s defeat and for “protecting” perpetrators.

Last night, a segment aired of Speaker Ferrandino being confronted by a FOX News crew outside his home: 

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Civil Unions: Automatic Upgrade to Marriage?

There's lots of news to be had today on gay rights.

First, the Colorado State House Judiciary Committee today heard arguments on the Civil Unions bill. The bill is expected to pass easily through committee votes and then on the floor with some Republican support.

But the big news for Coloradans looking forward to more gay rights in the state may have come from the U.S. Department of Justice's amicus brief today in the Supreme Court review of California's Proposition 8. In it the Obama Administration argues that denying the name "marriage" to gay couples while providing domestic partner benefits equivalent to marriage fails any test of scrutiny the Court might choose – essentially, that marriage status should be conferred in states who offer civil union status to LGBT couples. Now, Amendment 43 bars this recognition, but presumably that would be overturned if the Supreme Court agrees to the Administration's argument.

Never Mind, Marilyn Musgrave Still a Throwback

FOX 31's Eli Stokols corrects what for a moment seemed very exciting news:

Finally, a concession from Marilyn Musgrave.

Or so it seemed for a short time on the website of the New York Times, which initially reported Wednesday that the former Colorado Congresswoman, who never officially conceded her 2008 defeat to Democrat Betsy Markey, had done a complete reversal on what has always been her signature issue: gay marriage.

But Musgrave, who sponsored a Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and famously said that there was no bigger threat to the country, tells FOX31 Denver that the report is flat-out wrong…

Prior to stridently anti-gay former Rep. Marilyn Musgrave's correction of this story, it had made the rounds as further evidence that Republicans were taking concrete steps to moderate on divisive social issues after years of electoral defeats. No such luck, corrects the New York Times: 

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Colorado Deserves Better Than Libby Szabo

Two local reporters follow up the story of Rep. Libby Szabo's appearance last Friday on the O'Reilly Factor, where she accused Colorado House Speaker Mark Ferrandino of "protecting someone" after the death of a bill in the House to mandate long prison terms for child sex offenders. Both stories thoroughly deconstruct the hysterical reaction from Republicans to the death of this bill, but there's a more important point we don't want lost.

Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post reports on the death of "Jessica's Law" and the subsequent reaction today, establishing critically that the bill actually had very little support–including opposition from law enforcement and victims' advocates such as the Colorado District Attorneys' Council and the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault. According to a public defender specializing in sexual assault cases, Colorado law already allows for life sentences for the crimes covered by this bill. In addition to being an overreaction to something we already are very strict about in Colorado, absolutely nothing about the status quo or the proposed legislation justifies the hysterical anger being stoked about the bill's death.

FOX 31's Eli Stokols, writing about online meta-reaction to Bartels' story, explains why–and includes important details that Bartels, for whatever reason, omitted. 

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NOM To Steadman: We Resemble That Remark

Raw Story:

The National Organization of Marriage on Thursday accused the author of a civil unions bill of being contemptuous of religion after the Colorado lawmaker said Christian don’t have the right to discriminate against gay and lesbian individuals.

“Don’t claim religion as a reason the law should discriminate,” state Sen. Pat Steadman (D) said earlier this month. “We have laws against discrimination. Discrimination is banned in employment, and housing, and public accommodations, and so bakeries that serve the public aren’t supposed to look down their noses at one particular class of persons and say ‘we don’t sell cakes to you.’ It’s troubling, this discrimination. And it’s already illegal.”

“So, what to say to those who claim that religion requires them to discriminate?” the Colorado lawmaker continued. “I’ll tell you what I’d say: ‘Get thee to a nunnery!’ And live there then. Go live a monastic life away from modern society, away from people you can’t see as equals to yourself. Away from the stream of commerce where you may have to serve them or employ them or rent banquet halls to them.”

“Go some place and be as judgmental as you like. Go inside your church, establish separate water fountains in there if you want, but don’t claim that free exercise of religion requires the state of Colorado to establish separate water fountains for her citizens. That’s not what we’re doing here.”

The National Organization for Marriage responds:
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A GOP “Move To The Middle”–Wouldn’t That Be Nice?

UPDATE: The New York Times had an interesting story over the weekend about the GOP "establishment" throwing down the gauntlet with the "Tea Party" in 2014. We've discussed this on many occasions in this space, but it bears repeating: Republican attempts to kill their own Frankenstein is the gift that keeps on giving for Democrats.
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We want to acknowledge a well-intentioned editorial from The Denver Post on Friday, titled "A move to the middle for Colorado Republicans?" As our long-time readers know, this blog has accurately narrated for many years now as the Colorado Republican Party has alienated itself from the state's present and future majorities, with results increasingly undeniable in the form of five consecutive electoral defeats since 2004–even in years where the national political trends were strongly with Republicans, as was the case in 2010. We've been accused of celebrating this alienation, but the truth is, our warnings to the GOP have been sincere, and the consequences we have witnessed can very arguably be considered objectively bad. As Republicans have lost touch with the voters of Colorado, and lost elections, an honest representative viewpoint for conservatives in our politics–a viewpoint still very much prevalent among many of our state's citizens–has been undermined.

In the Denver Post's editorial Friday, a reported incremental change of heart on the part of a few Republican lawmakers on the ASSET legislation for undocumented students is celebrated as a "years overdue" "migration to the middle." They express hope for more such "migrations," on issues like civil unions for gays and lesbians, and (though they note it is unlikely) reducing gun violence. A truly moderate GOP, says the Post, might "be a voice for many Coloradans who hold centrist views that fall on the GOP side of the spectrum."

We want to be clear, as we have said so many times over the years, that we too would welcome a genuine move to the center by Colorado Republicans. We think that, partisan advantage notwithstanding, most Democrats would prefer to have less-unhinged conversations about the issues facing our state.

So it is really too bad that we have to pop the Post's bubble now.

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Civil Unions Quietly Passes Appropriations

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

For those of you keeping track of Senate Bill 11 on Civil Unions, it passed the Senate Appropriations in an early morning meeting on a 4-3 vote. 

Next up will be 2nd reading on the Senate Floor, expected for Friday, February 8th with final Senate passage expected the following week. 

The word is that supporters are aiming to have the Governor's signature on the bill before March 1. 

Update with story: http://equalityfederation.salsalabs.com/o/35061/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=1048

And…the 2014 Ballot Race is On!

While a 'Civil Unions' bill is expected to make it through the Colorado legislature this year, the first potential ballot measure for 2014 looks to legalize gay marriage. Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post reports on the official wording, which reads:

Be it enacted by the voters of the State of Colorado: Article II Section 31 of the Constitution of the State of Colorado is amended to read: A union of one man and one woman, one man and one man, and one woman and woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state.

Anti-Civil Unions Rally Turns Decidedly Icky

SUNDAY UPDATE: Lynn Bartels of the Denver paper gives former Sen. Ed Jones’ offensive remarks some belated attention, and background, in a blog post late yesterday evening.
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marriagerally012513

FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports on yesterday's rally to "Protect Marriage" at the state capitol:

At the event, organized by the Colorado Catholic Conference, opponents of Senate Bill 11 bemoaned the fact that it no longer contains an exemption for adoption agencies that preferred not to work with gay couples for religious reasons.

Last year’s bill, which included that exemption, would already be law if not for former House Speaker Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, who decided to shut down the legislature on the session’s penultimate day as a last resort to avoid a vote and effectively kill that bill, which would have passed the full House with some GOP support.

“It doesn’t take courage to do the right thing,” McNulty said to cheers at Friday’s rally. “Marriage should be reinforced, not redefined.”

…Former state lawmaker Ed Jones took aim at the bill’s sponsor who is also McNulty’s predecessor as Speaker, Rep. Mark Ferrandino, for having a “wife” he called “Eric”, even though the lawmaker has a husband whose name is actually Greg. [Pols emphasis]

“Gays don’t have to be that way,” Jones said, ignoring overwhelming science that states otherwise.

We've heard from multiple sources in attendance that former Sen. Ed Jones' remarks at yesterday's rally were far and away the most offensive–openly invoking his race to disparage not just civil unions, but gays and lesbians in general as unworthy of rights. That said, we're unaware of any attempt made by organizer Dan Caplis, or anyone else including the numerous elected officials in attendance to repudiate Jones' remarks, or this over-the-top insult against Speaker Mark Ferrandino in particular. To brand this event as an embrace of exactly the sort of bigotry that so many moderate Republicans have warned the party to reject is a considerable understatement.

We don't understand why nothing about any of this unvarnished hate speech appears in today's Denver Post story about the same rally–which says only that Jones called on Gov. John Hickenlooper to "act on his moderate credentials" and veto the bill. As Stokols' more thorough reporting shows, there was nothing "moderate" about this.

What happened yesterday should be called out, not sanitized.

Denver Nuggets Player Kenneth Faried Voices Support for Civil Unions in Colorado

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

fariedmoms

Denver Nuggets star player, Kenneth Faried, has made a video with his two moms voicing their support for civil unions in Colorado.

“Nobody can ever tell me I can’t have two mothers because I really do,” said Faried.

Faried’s two mothers, Carol and Waudda, have been together for eleven years. Waudda has lupus, and the protections of a civil union have helped Carol care for her partner through the ups and downs of life.

“Gay and lesbian couples share similar worries as everyone else, like taking care of a loved one in sickness and in health,” said Brad Clark, Executive Director of One Colorado, the lead organization advocating for passage of civil unions in Colorado. “The story of Kenneth’s mothers remind us why civil unions are an important part of building the security we all long for.”

Click here to thank Kenneth Faried and his moms for supporting civil unions.

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Civil Unions “Revenge Tour” Begins Next Week

As announced in an email from LGBT advocacy organization One Colorado today:

The Colorado Civil Union Act has been scheduled for its first hearing — Wednesday, January 23, at 1:30 p.m. in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Civil unions is a critical piece of legislation for our community. If passed, it will provide committed same-sex couples in the state with the protections they need to take care of their families.

We have a lot of support for the bill in the Senate Judiciary Committee — thanks to your incredible work during the election. But you can be sure that opponents of equality will flood the Capitol before Wednesday’s vote…

Passage of civil unions was assured, of course, after the extraordinary actions of the GOP House majority last year to kill the bill became a central 2012 campaign issue, and Democrats retook control of the House in the November general elections by a strong majority.

Fait accompli or no, it’s a popular question today at the Capitol whether “Anus Granny” will make another appearance Wednesday.

Radio host doesn’t ask State Senator for the names of legislators who “just don’t like Christians”

(The “War on Christmas” starts earlier each year – promoted by Colorado Pols)



On the radio Monday, State Sen. Greg Brophy said there’s an “element” of  ”folks who just don’t like Christians” in Colorado, and “they are well represented at the State Capital right now.”

Citing Obama’s victory, as well as the passage of a measure legalizing and taxing marijuana, Brophy said on the radio:

BROPHY: “That’s what leads me to say that we’re kind of a Libertarian/Left state.  You know, and geez, I hate to say this, but it sure seems like there is an element of an anti-Christian bent in Colorado which probably does also play into that Libertarian/Left side of things…and they’re well represented at the State Capital right now.”

KFKA radio’s guest host Krista Kafer didn’t ask Brophy to reveal his list of anti-Christian folk up at the State Capitol. So I called him to find out whom he was thinking of.

Brophy referred me to an opinion piece he wrote arguing that Senate Democrats were attacking hospitals for their religious convictions. They passed a bill, which did not clear the House, that would have required hospitals to post services that they elect not to provide due to religious, not medical considerations (e.g., abortion and some contraception services), but Senate Democrats rejected an amendment requiring all hospitals to list services they don’t provide, Brophy wrote.

If you remember,” Brophy told me, “when I was [on the radio], I said I don’t want to say this because it’s kind of a harsh thing to say, but I think it’s an accurate observation.

So it’s based on that? Or are there other things?

“That’s a very public observation that’s been out there,” Brophy said. “Other stuff is certainly more subtle. You never can tell for sure, Jason, what someone’s thinking or what motivates them. You can only tell what they do. And when I wrote that op-ed I specifically went into what they did.”

I thought it was ironic that Brophy was raising the specter of anti-Christian bigotry at the State Capitol, given his comments about gays in the same KFKA interview Monday.

Brophy said he believes civil unions are one thing, but it would go too far to require an adoption agency, for example, to award a child to a traditional couple over gay couple based on the adoption agency’s alleged religious beliefs about the morality of homosexuality.

BROPHY: “But isn’t there a happy medium here where you can also have an adoption agency that says, “All things being equal, we would prefer to have a male-female married couple work with our adopted children – all things being equal.”  I mean, I think most people believe that too, and I would hope that we could find a happy medium.  I suspect that we will end up settling this question at a U.S. Supreme Court level within just a couple of years, because there are some cases that are testing this.  For instance, say, if you run a Bed and Breakfast and want to cater to folks who are on, you know, bible study-based family vacations, and you refuse to rent a room to somebody who isn’t married, or who is in a same-sex marriage, you can be sued for discrimination.  And your- that’s a direct contradiction between the civil rights protection and the religious liberty protection.

We heard a lot about religious liberty during the election, as Republicans argued that restrictions on abortion and women’s health should be accepted as religious freedoms instead of as a war on women.

Brophy’s comments, about gays and Christian haters, leave me thinking that he’s not going to back away from the election rhetoric. He didn’t talk about Republicans working with each other or with Democrats, but instead about Republicans picking sides within their own party and fighting, building a movement of social conservatives prior to the next primary.

BROPHY: “And there’s an element, there’s a leg, or an element of the Republican Party that has always been rather embarrassed by the Christian conservative component of the Republican Party.  I don’t know what to do with them. I mean, you know, we form our coalitions in U.S. politics before the primary and so, pick your side.  And as for me, I’m going to be on the side that argues for fiscal restraint, and that argues for religious liberty and individual liberty, limited government and less spending by the government, but either people buy that argument or they don’t.”

If I’m a reporter, and I hear Brophy, I’d be watching to see if the election collapse had any impact at all on him and like-minded Republicans. It appears it did not.