Gay rights group slams Renfroe for comparing homosexuality to murder

A prominent national gay rights organization on Tuesday blasted Colorado state Sen. Scott Renfroe for comparing homosexuality to murder when he spoke Monday against a bill that would extend health benefits to same-sex domestic partners of state employees.

After quoting Scripture to call homosexual behavior a “detestable act,” the Greeley Republican said it would be “an abomination according to Scripture” for the Legislature to “(take) sins and (make) them to be legally OK.”

He continued: “I’m not saying (homosexuality) is the only sin that is out there. Obviously we have sin — we have murder, we have, we have all sorts of sin, we have adultery, and we don’t make laws making those legal, and we would never think to make murder legal.”

State Sen. Scott Renfroe, a Greeley Republican (Photo/Bob Spencer, The Colorado Independent)

State Sen. Scott Renfroe, a Greeley Republican (Photo/Bob Spencer, The Colorado Independent)

“These outrageously offensive comments warrant condemnation by all fair-minded people and should be ignored by the Colorado legislature as they move forward in passing overdue protections to state workers,” said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), in a statement.

HRC, which bills itself as the nation’s “largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality,” urged Renfroe’s colleagues to “press ahead and protect hard-working Coloradoans” by passing the same-sex benefits bill.

The liberal activist group, ProgressNow Colorado, launched an email rapid response action to “tell Scott Renfroe what you think” and a “Reject Renfroe” Facebook page within hours of the speech going public.

The state Senate passed SB 88 — sponsored by the Legislature’s two openly gay members, Sen. Jennifer Veiga and Rep. Mark Ferrandino, both Denver Democrats — on a voice vote after Renfroe spoke, and then gave final approval to the bill Tuesday morning by a margin of 22-12, with Republican Sens. Ken Kester and Al White joining Democrats voting in favor. The bill moves on to the House for consideration.

The bill, which also came under fire from Focus on the Family in an advertising campaign last week, roused Renfroe to pull out a Bible and thump it during debate Monday. After first establishing that God created Eve to be Adam’s “helper,” Renfroe explained why he opposed extending health care benefits to gay and lesbian partners of state employees:

Homosexuality is seen as a violation of this natural, created order and it is an offense to God, the Creator, who created men and women, male and female, for procreation.

Then came some passages from the Bible:

Leviticus 18:22 says, “You shall not lie with a man as one lies with a female, it is an abomination.”

and

Leviticus 20:13 says, “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act and they shall surely be put to death. Their blood guiltiness is upon them.”

Pretty standard stuff. But then Renfroe, explained why he believes government shouldn’t be “[creating] laws that go against what Biblically we are supposed to stand for” by “taking sins and making them to be legally OK.” That’s what caught the attention of the HRC (emphasis added):

I’m not saying (homosexuality) is the only sin that is out there. Obviously we have sin — we have murder, we have, we have all sorts of sin, we have adultery, and we don’t make laws making those legal, and we would never think to make murder legal. But what I’m saying that for is that all sin is equal. That sin there is as equal to any other sin that’s in the Bible, to having wandering eyes, to coveting your neighbor’s things. Whatever you do, that sin is equal and it can be forgiven because of that.

The bill’s Senate sponsor fired back:

“You say, up here at this microphone, that God created us in a certain structure,” Veiga said. “I will stand here today and tell you that God also created me. And the last time I checked, I am who I am, people.”

Veiga called Renfroe’s comments “somewhat sad” and said afterward that “(his statements) are hurtful, but what am I supposed to say?”

Before it passed, the bill also drew opposition from Republicans who said it was an attempt to circumvent voters, who shot down a ballot measure that would have established civil unions in 2006.

Others said the state can’t afford the estimated $116,000 annual cost when the Legislature is facing budget shortfalls estimated as high as $1 billion next year.

Renfroe and Veiga were scheduled to appear on the Caplis and Silverman show on 630 KHOW in the 5 o’clock hour Tuesday.

On the other side of the Capitol, the House gave final approval Tuesday to a bill sponsored by Ferrandino that would make it easier for unmarried couples — both gay and straight — to designate each other as beneficiaries, the Rocky Mountain News reports.

And across town Monday night, the Aurora City Council approved a bill to allow city employees to add same-sex domestic partners to their health coverage. In an unexpected move, the City Council added opposite-sex domestic partners to the proposal and passed it on a 7-3 vote.

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Ernest Luning