PHOTOS: On Friday, Colorado Governor Jim Hickenlooper signed into law Senate Bill 11, which legalizes same-sex unions, before a uproarious crowd at the History Colorado museum.
The momentous day was a counterpoint to Election Night 1992, when Colorado voters approved Amendment 2, which blocked extending anti-discrimination protections to gays and lesbians.
“We didn’t take that defeat sitting down,” said state Sen. Pat Steadman (D-Denver). “We were in the streets, and we were in the courtrooms, and we were in the halls of the Capitol building.”
This is the fourth time Steadman and fellow gay legislator and House Speaker Mark Ferrandino sponsored a civil-unions bill, but the first time it didn’t die in the Legislature. (It’s also the first time it was put forward since Democrats won the House in November.)
“John Kelly and I met 20 years ago, wearing our U.S. military uniforms, in American Veterans for Equal Rights’ first color guard for the Denver Pride Parade,” Jay Chetney, one of the witnesses to the signing, posted on Facebook. “He was an Air Force medic and I was an Army nurse. For years our unit marched behind the Dykes with Bikes. Today we witnessed the signing of Colorado’s Civil Union Bill!”
Steadman joined in that ebullient feeling, but admitted civil unions fall short of full marriage equality: “It is not an extension of equal rights,” he said. “It is not something that includes us fully and on equal footing with others in society—There is still much to do.”
The Denver Post reveals Steadman deliberately chose to name the measure Senate Bill 11:
His partner, Dave Misner, who died last September after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer, was born on May 11. They had been together 11 years. Some of those who attended the civil-unions signing wore the same purple ribbons they wore at Misner’s funeral.
After civil unions passed this year, Steadman wrote a poem:
11 is a prime number.
Eleven is a lovely word.
It’s binary; a pair of ones.
It’s two like things, bound together,
to make a whole of ones.
Photos: Stevie Crecelius/History Colorado