A Colorado civil union bill was defeated in a House committee Thursday, March 31, but no reader of the Denver Post or the Colorado Springs Gazette, nor any viewer of local news stations, would have reason to know that CitizenLink opposed the bill prior to the vote.
CitizenLink, and other voices of reasoned opposition to the bill, didn’t make the local media.
For example, one of the more informative exchanges between lawmakers and a testifier at Thursday’s hearing in the House Judiciary Committee, was with Doug Napier, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund. Napier was closely questioned for at least a half-hour by bill supporter Rep. Daniel Kagan-D and others, about how the state’s 2009 Designated Beneficiary law provided the legal rights that bill sponsors said same-sex couples needed in the proposed civil union bill.
Napier’s superb legal analysis did not address the biblical defense of marriage as a reason to oppose the civil union law, but the lengthy exchange with Napier was not mentioned in the Denver Post write-up, nor in a piece from the local Fox TV station, KDVR. Instead, this is what KDVR wrote about opposition testimony to the bill:
Those who testified against the bill primarily referred to scripture, often quoting Leviticus, some arguing that recognizing civil unions was the same as endorsing gay marriage, others arguing that being gay is a choice.
“This bill is an abomination,” Pastor Roger Anghis told the committee.
This was par for the course for Colorado’s major media reporting on the bill.
Within the two week period that the bill was discussed in the Senate and House, major media failed to interview opposition to the bill other than brief statements from state legislators. In contrast, coverage of the bill’s non legislative supporters was thorough and robust.
In addition to its news coverage of the bill, the Gazette featured an op-ed in support of the bill, and featured an article about a lesbian couple who supported the bill. CitizenLink offered the Gazette (and the Denver Post) an “opposing voice” op-ed for publication that highlighted the bill’s many similarities to the 2009 designated beneficiary law, but it was not accepted.
The Denver Post’s coverage was similarly biased. On the day of the House hearing, the Post quoted Gov. Hickenlooper to say that “almost everybody has an opinion about this,” but ironically, the only other voices in the article were those of civil union supporters.
The Post’s follow-up article after the civil union bill’s defeat continued the trend. No mention was made of Napier’s testimony, nor of the testimony of a CPA who opposed the bill because he said, it created a disincentive for heterosexual couples to marry. Instead, there was a brief mention that a number of opposition testimonies referenced the Bible.
Post readers were informed, however, of extremely interesting minutiae. For example, the vote fell on Senate bill sponsor Sen. Pat Steadman’s birthday, House bill sponsor Rep. Mark Ferrandino’s twin sister testified, and Rep. Brian DelGrosso has an uncle who is gay.
Only a Denver Daily News article quoted both a representative of One Colorado, which supported the bill, and a Focus on the Family spokesperson. The Catholic Church published its comments through its news agency, but did not get to voice its opposition in any of the state’s major publications.
This “media blackout” of certain voices by the Colorado media was more than a little unusual. In the past, CitizenLink and the Catholic Church in Colorado, have been flooded with requests to “react” to any news story concerning same-sex marriage or civil unions. But while the civil union bill was the subject of a full-court press by the bill’s sponsors, you would never know that groups like ours were even opposed to it.
The icing on the cake is in the article posted by local Fox station, KDVR. It concluded with the equivalent of calling in an older brother to bully a schoolyard classmate.
Put another way, Thursday’s GOP vote equates to kicking a hornet’s nest — a hornet’s nest named Tim Gill.
Gill, the gay millionaire who’s (sic) riches are largely responsible for the Democratic takeover in Colorado over the past decade, will now be spending more to defeat Republicans across the state, starting with GOP members of the statehouse.
“It’s very likely there will be consequences for not allowing full debate and consideration by the full House,” said Gill’s lawyer, Ted Trimpa.
We commend the committee members for standing strong, and for not giving in to this kind of pressure. We are with you. We know just how it feels to stand up to this kind bullying.