Monday, in an effort to remove discrimination from Colorado’s constitution and win the freedom to marry, key state and national advocacy groups led a broad coalition of faith, business, civic and political leaders, and everyday Coloradans in launching Why Marriage Matters Colorado at a public rally in Denver on the west steps of the State Capitol.
The campaign centers on the core principle that all loving, committed couples should have the freedom to marry in the state that they call home. Monday’s announcement comes at a time when the national landscape for marriage equality is shifting rapidly. Less than two weeks ago, nine couples filed a legal challenge to the state’s constitutional ban on marriage for same-sex couples. At the same time, two federal cases – one based in Utah, the other in Oklahoma – will be heard next month by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Colorado.
Why Marriage Matters Colorado will broaden the dialogue with Coloradans about why marriage is important to same-sex couples and their families and why it is consistent with the values of liberty and freedom. This new statewide initiative is being spearheaded by One Colorado, ACLU of Colorado and Freedom to Marry.
“As a Republican small business owner, I believe the freedom to marry is consistent with conservative values of limited government and individual freedom,” said Maria Garcia Berry, a Colorado Republican and local business leader. “Freedom means freedom for everyone, and I’m proud to join this effort to remove discrimination from Colorado’s constitution and move our state forward.”
Why Marriage Matters Colorado will equip supporters with tools and training to share personal stories about why marriage matters to them. The campaign will engage businesses, religious congregations, and civic leaders to help win the freedom to marry in Colorado and show that gay and lesbian couples are part of someone’s family and should be treated with respect.
“Marriage is one of the most special moments of a person’s life, when you stand in front of your friends and family and say this isn’t just the person I love – it’s the person I want to be responsible for and held accountable to,” said Jodi Martin, who lives with her partner Jenny in Boulder. “Marriage upholds everything we believe in – stability, integrity, responsibility and most importantly, family. Recognizing our family only makes our community and our state stronger.”
“Allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry would tell my daughter – and all of our children and grandchildren – that here in Colorado, we believe in treating others as we would want to be treated ourselves,” said Reverend Laura Rossbert, a United Methodist clergywoman and Denver resident. “Singling out one group of people for unfair treatment by not letting them marry the person they love is not how we do things in Colorado.”
Politicians came out in full support of the new campaign. Some of the more notable ones are listed below.
Senator Mark Udall said: “I believe we are stronger as a state and as a country when we promote the public affirmation of family, shared responsibility and commitment that comes with marriage. That’s why I am proud to join with One Colorado to support its campaign for marriage equality. We are better off when we promote marriage and family by ending laws and regulations that undermine commitment and discriminate against Colorado’s LGBT couples.”
Senator Michael Bennet said: “Loving, committed couples, regardless of sexual orientation, should be afforded the same rights and benefits of marriage that Susan and I enjoy. Colorado took a significant step forward last year with civil unions, but it’s now time to affirm that all couples should be treated equally under our laws. We look forward to the day we can celebrate full equality with LGBT Coloradans.”
Governor John Hickenlooper said: “We have advocated for equal rights for all Coloradans and we will continue to advocate for equal rights for all Coloradans. Last year, Colorado took a historic step forward when we passed bipartisan legislation recognizing civil unions. If all men and women truly have the inalienable right to pursue happiness, and if all people are created equal, then by extension of law, logic, and love, every adult couple should also have the freedom to join in marriage.”
Congressman Jared Polis said: “No one should be denied the opportunity to choose his or her spouse. It is a basic human right and deeply personal decision. Throughout history, we have only moved forward when society has distinguished between traditional values and valueless traditions. Whether through an initiative at the ballot box or through the courts, I’m confident that gay and lesbian Coloradoans will soon be able to marry the person they love.”
Congresswoman Diana DeGette said: “I am proud to be fighting every day to ensure that all Americans are treated equally, no matter who they love. While we have made significant progress, we know there is still work to be done. As the Vice Chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality caucus, I am committed to working together to win full marriage equality for all. LGBT Coloradoans deserve the same opportunities to make a lifetime promise of commitment and responsibility to the person they love. Today, I stand with so many of my colleagues, friends, and neighbors in proudly supporting the freedom to marry for all Coloradoans.”
Congressman Ed Perlmutter said: “Liberty and the right to pursue happiness are core American values. I’m proud to stand with One Colorado to support marriage equality for all people who want to make a lifetime promise of commitment and responsibility to the person they love.”
For more information about the Why Marriage Matters Colorado campaign, including how to make a financial contribution, pledge to win the freedom to marry in Colorado, or share a story about why marriage matters, visit www.whymarriagematterscolorado.org.