Carroll: Bring on the civil unions

State Senator Pat Steadman, D-Denver, and Rep. Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, today picked up a somewhat unlikely ally in their quest to pass civil union legislation next year.

Denver Post columnist Vince Carroll today opined that civil unions were no threat to traditional marriage, though he also commented that allowing heterosexual couples to choose civil unions as an alternative to marriage might be going too far.

From his column:

“We could not support a law that undermines marriage, and that’s exactly what civil unions do,” said Jenny Tyree of Citizen Link, which is affiliated with Focus on the Family.

“This is a steppingstone to one thing only,” she added, “and that’s redefining marriage . . . .”

Actually, Americans have been pretty successful at undermining and redefining marriage for years without any help from civil unions. It’s almost quaint to worry about possible corrosive effects of civil unions in a nation in which the percentage of children born to single mothers sets a record almost every year — from 37 percent five years ago, for example, to more than 40 percent today — and a quarter of all kids live in single-parent homes.

The figures for blacks and Latinos are even higher, with more than 70 percent of black babies born to single moms.

The yearly creep of these figures passes almost unnoticed in the media and in public debate despite their ominous implications for multigenerational poverty and educational attainment — not to mention stubborn economic disparities between ethnic groups.

“I have been working with One Colorado to ensure the bill meets the needs of the community and has broad support from a coalition of allies. We’re also working with others in the legislature to craft a bill that can successfully make it to the governor’s desk. I know that John Hickenlooper has long been a supporter of equal rights and I am confident that if we can get a bill to his desk he will sign it into law,” Steadman told OutFront Colorado earlier this month.

The Colorado Springs Gazette has also editorialized in favor of civil unions, even while calling out Focus on the Family for going overboard in opposing civil unions.

From the Gazette:

It is impossible to reason how traditional, heterosexual marriages are threatened by other relationships among adults who would like to be married. Not long ago, some argued that a traditional marriage among two whites or two blacks would be threatened by another couple’s interracial marriage. It was the paranoid and impoverished construct of those who believed one couple’s good fortune was best maintained by another’s state-imposed deprivation. Experience shows us that one couple’s interracial marriage has exactly no effect on another couple’s same-race marriage.

Ferrandino told The Colorado Independent today that he was pleased with the support by what many view as right-wing media.

“The Gazette and Carroll both speak for the right, it seems, so maybe some Republican legislators will follow their lead and support civil unions,” he said.

“It is very encouraging to see so much support in the media, and not just from the usual suspects. If that outside support translates to support within the legislature, then I feel pretty good about our chances,” he said.

Ferrandino said he has spoken with several House Republicans who say they may support such a bill this year.

Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.

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