On Tuesday, March 12, 2013, the House of Representatives voted to pass SB 13-011 by a margin of 39 to 26. All Democratic members of the House and Senate voted to support the extension of basic legal rights that SB 11 offers to couples in our state, as did a handful of Republican members. The bill will soon be delivered to the desk of Governor John Hickenlooper for signature.
I’m incredibly proud of our state and this historic accomplishment. We’ve come a long way from the dark days of 1992, when voters added a controversial and discriminatory provision to the Colorado Constitution that sought to exclude gays and lesbians from the equal protection of the law in our state. The United States Supreme Court struck down “Amendment 2,” as it was known, in a 6 to 3 decision in 1996. I sat in the courtroom the October day in 1995 when they heard oral arguments in the Romer v. Evans case. Looking back on this chapter of our history puts today’s victory in perspective.
The road to equality is long and rocky. We’ve overcome some major obstacles along the way, but there is more work still to do. Another provision of the Colorado Constitution continues to discriminate against gay men and lesbians and prevent their equal inclusion in the fabric of our society. Some day soon it too must be overturned. As Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the Romer v. Evans opinion, “A state cannot so deem a class of persons a stranger to its laws.” Passage of SB 11 helps remedy the inequality enshrined in our state constitution and ends the status of “strangers to our laws,” but we still have far to go before the promise of liberty and justice for all is fulfilled.