Politics Letter from Colorado
posted by April 17 at 14:37 PMon
Once upon a time everything we knew about Colorado we learned watching Mork & Mindy. Then one day the American Evangelical Movement upped and move to Colorado, turning Colorado Springs into their batshitcrazy Vatican, and in 1992 Colorado voters passed an anti-gay-rights amendment to their state constitution. (It was later overturned by the US Supreme Court.) Colorado voted for Bush in 2000 and 2004.
So Colorado—it’s a red state, right?
Maybe not. Something is up in Colorado. In the last few weeks Colorado state legislators—did you know that Colorado has a Dem governor and that Dems control both houses of the Colorado legislature?—passed a pro-gay adoption law; now state legislators are moving on a law that would ban discrimination against gays and lesbians in the workplace.
What’s going on in Colorado? I put that question to Noel Black, one of the crazed geniuses behind the late, great Toilet Paper and now Newspeak, and a resident of Colorado Springs. Here’s Noel’s take:
Yes, it’s a good questions why Colorado is suddenly a bastion of pro-gay state legislation like THIS, and THIS.
We’ve got a Dem in the governor’s mansion (Bill Ritter) and a Dem controlled house and senate. In all honesty, I have no fucking idea why this is happening beyond what my “work spouse” (isn’t that a disgusting term!?), Aaron Retka, posted HERE. Pointed out as the obvious, Retka says: Ted Haggard pretty much ruined the credibility of evangelicals everywhere, George Bush and the Republicans on the national level are fuckin’ up the program for lesser neo-cons everywhere, the war is dumb, etc.
Jay Ferguson, a friend who works for the rapidly growing El Paso Country Democratic Party here in Colorado Springs, notes that, “the thing that’s interesting in Colorado is that if you look at it is as a whole, we’re basically divided neatly into thirds between dems, republicans and independents. So it really just depends on which way the wind is blowing.” He believes the numbers show that Colorado will continue to blow even farther blue for forseeable future.
He also pointed out that social issues aren’t on people’s minds right now as much as things like water, and our lack of it. And Ritter ran on energy and water. A lot of the new democratic legislators also ran on issues of energy and they tend pragmatically progressive. Jay also suggested that many repubs may have voted for Ritter and other democratic legislators because if we run out of water, the housing boom will end and wealthy areas like Castle Rock and South Denver are going to be hard hit.
Now, there’s the paradox of Referendum I, which was also on the ballot in November 06 and got beat
60/4053/47. That ref would’ve legalized civil unions for same-sex couples, and polls at the time suggested that it had about a 50/50 shot at passage. Jay again pointed out an odd fact about the way Colorado voters tend to behave at the polls: We almost always vote no on amendments we don’t fully understand or don’t think can be reversed. Interestingly, says Jay, Ref I simple didn’t motivate a lot of voters and didn’t end up being a wedge at all. So, even though Ref I lost in the election, polls indicated that there was enough political will to begin passing progressive protections for queers in the legislature.
It is intersting that the Dems will be holding their convention in Denver in 08. I think they see Colorado as a model for state tipping.