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A Matter of Time, Just Not This Time

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A rally at the state Capitol on Thursday for the civil union bill. (credit: CBS)

A rally at the state Capitol on Thursday for the civil union bill. (credit: CBS)

Written by Dominic Dezzutti

Late Thursday night, the State House Judiciary Committee very likely sealed the fate of the Civil Unions bill. The committee voted 6-5 on a party line vote, to not send the bill to the Appropriations Committee, essentially killing the bill.

The concept of civil unions, giving same gender couples many of the same legal rights as married couples, has been gaining steam for that last few years. Many pundits and surveys suggest that as younger generations begin to take more positions of power; this issue is likely to pass.

Some were hopeful that the time for passage was now. But despite hours of testimony from supporters, none of the Republicans on the Judiciary panel were swayed to vote for the bill.

This may seem like a cold-hearted move by Republicans, solely motivated to not grant reasonable rights to some of our fellow citizens. I can see some people feeling that way, but I think that would be short-sighted, and frankly, giving social conservatives way too much credit.

While the Tea Party movement has certainly ushered in a more conservative streak to the capitol among Republicans, the grip that social conservatives have on the party is not as assured. Most of the Tea Party movement doesn’t care about social issues; they care more about fiscal issues. Granted, it’s not like the Tea party will be confused for Libertarians, but it’s not like they’ve been fueled by ultra-conservative Christian churches either.

Beyond giving the Tea Party too much credit, just blaming the conservative wing of the GOP for this loss is also letting Senate Democrats off the hook.

Politics can sometimes be about principle, but more often than not, it’s about deal making. With a Democratic Senate and a Republican House, deals should take precedence this session. If Senate Democratic leadership really wanted to see the Civil Unions bill get a better chance of success, they likely could have made some deals with House Leadership to see the bill get a better chance with more moderate Republicans on a different committee.

Maybe Senate Democrats tried and House Republicans didn’t want to roll over on such a significant bill for social conservatives. But it hasn’t seemed like Senate President Brandon Schaffer has been terribly keen on paving the way for Republican bills in the Senate.

I could be wrong, or simply naïve, or both, and it wouldn’t be the first time. But all of the arguments and hearings surrounding this bill seemed to be about the culture wars and not about political deal-making. Maybe this bill was a non-starter, but we’ll never know.

I agree that this issue will likely change in the favor for supporters fairly soon, thanks to generational changes in social views. But thanks to a seemingly unwillingness to work harder at a making a deal from both sides of the legislature, supporters will have to wait for the eventual right time somewhere down the road.

Related Story: Civil Union Bill Killed In House Committee

About The Blogger

- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.

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