DENVER – Observers wondered how long it would take before some in Colorado would try to erode same-sex marriage, which was recently declared the law of the land by the nation’s high court. The answer: six days.
Two initiatives for the 2016 ballot were proposed July 2, both of which seek to limit same-sex marriages.
Gay-rights advocates aren’t surprised. Even as they were celebrating the landmark June 26 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, they were preparing for battles in the wake of the decision.
The first initiative would redefine gay marriage in order to limit it to only a civil union. The second proposal would allow businesses providing wedding services to contract jobs to another business if same-sex marriage violates their principles.
Both initiatives have been proposed by Littleton residents D’Arcy Straub and Gene Straub. Neither returned calls seeking comment. D’Arcy Straub was on an extended mountaineering trip, according to voicemail.
The proposals are awaiting reviews by the state; they are scheduled for July 16. Legal questions remain about whether the initiatives would be valid after the Supreme Court’s ruling. If the petitions are approved, proponents would need to collect 98,492 valid signatures to make the 2016 ballot.
Barbara Balaguer, chairwoman of Four Corners Alliance for Diversity, expressed disappointment but not surprise. She understands the fight continues.
“We would be looking through rose-colored glasses if we thought that everyone would be completely on the same page,” Balaguer said. “While this is an overwhelming success on many levels ... in reality, discrimination continues to exist on many levels.”
She wonders whether the proposals violate American principles.
“Whatever happened to separation of church and state?” Balaguer asked. “At the end of the day, marriage is a civil contract, and one does not have to have a religious ceremony in order to be legally married within the state of Colorado.”
After the Supreme Court’s ruling, religious interests assailed the decision, suggesting that the court made sweeping changes to the definition of marriage with far-reaching moral and legal consequences.
“Marriage precedes the creation of states and, by its nature, remains the union of one man and one woman. No court, no law and no amount of political correctness or wishful thinking can really change what marriage is,” Colorado bishops said in response to the ruling. “Men and women were designed by God in complementary relation to one another, and only a man and a woman can form a conjugal union that brings forth children.”
“We are concerned that this decision will fan the flames of government hostility against individuals, businesses and religious organizations whose convictions prevent them from officiating at, participating in or celebrating such unions,” said Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family, a Christian-based nonprofit that promotes socially conservative views. “Ultimately, however, no court can change the eternal truth that marriage is, and always has been, between a man and a woman.”
For Karen Skelly, a Durango-area wedding photographer, the issue is simple: Marriage should be allowed for anyone who wants to enter into one. Skelly has already taken wedding photos for one gay couple at Silverpick Lodge north of Durango. She doesn’t believe a ballot initiative is necessary to present wedding businesses with options.
“My thought is that if you are in business, you should serve everybody. If you don’t want to serve certain people, you shouldn’t be in business,” Skelly said.
“I know they have their religious beliefs that the Bible says a marriage should be between a man and a woman,” she said. “But the Bible was written by men thousands of years ago. Who knows if God actually said those words. God is the one that has to judge people, not us.”