Domestic Partnership Ballot Fall-Out Uncertain in Haggard Scandal

If Colorado voters respond with the calm, cool collectedness of Lee Badgett, the will of the voters may still win the day on Referendum I and Amendment 43 despite the media hoopla surrounding the unfolding Ted Haggard scandal.

Local talk radio is rife with complaints that Mike Jones’ allegations were politically motivated in order to influence the election. The two ballot measures represent key legislative and moral victories to both the evangelical and gay communities.

Badgett studies sexual orientation and its affects on economic policy as a visiting professor at the Charles A. Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at the UCLA Law School. She has a different perspective. “I would argue that people need to take a little step back,” she said. My perspective is not affected by the emotional responses that are happening. I think that there is recognition that Ref I is good for the state economy and that equality is good too.”

Colorado is the only state in the union with competing ballot measures to define marriage Constitutionally while legislating domestic partnerships. The proponents of both initiatives are actively mining their bases to turn out on election day. Recent advertising by Amendment 43 supporters complain that domestic partnership is “counterfeit marriage” and will damage not only the traditional definition but will somehow weaken the bonds between millions of heterosexual married couples throughout the state.

The latest polls reflect an interesting dynamic: Ref I support is neck and neck while there is overwhelming affirmation for the marriage definition. 

However, according to Badgett’s research the apparent inconsistency of voters’ support for both is not unique or unexpected. The public wants to preserve the definition of  marriage definition while recognizing that same sex couples need a legal remedy to address their rights and responsibilities. She further stated that though national opinion polls show that active church-goers are less supportive of domestic partnership laws that it is not a universal sentiment among those who consider themselves religious. There are definite variations in opinion. Thus, the results currently reflected in Colorado’s polling.

Last month, Badgett released a study on The Impact of the Colorado Domestic Partnership Act on Colorado?s State Budget [PDF] which found that Referendum I would provide a net gain of $1.2 million in revenue to the state each year.

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Wendy Norris

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