Governor John Hickenlooper, who made civil unions a top legislative priority, did not sign a bill, but received national attention when the legislation was killed at the end of Colorado Legislative session on May 9.
With President Obama declaring his support for gay marriage, the issue rocketed to the top of national news coverage. But, Obama’s endorsement also caused the issue to become more polarized.
Hickenlooper made CNN on Sunday morning to become the reasonable face of the Democratic Party on the issue. Both Hickenlooper and the national party want to avoid appearing out of the mainstream or solely focused on the issue. When Hickenlooper offered his call for the special legislative session, he put water at the top. And, on CNN, he prominently mentioned pro business (jobs) items on the agenda.
While there is public support for gay rights, and specifically civil unions, it is a low priority for people. Democrats are anxious to avoid the problem that damaged Republicans in 2004 and 2006 as being labeled the party of “guns,” “God” and “gays” instead of focused on jobs and schools.
“Pollster Floyd Ciruli said Hickenlooper is wisely emphasizing that he called the special session to address several issues – including funding for water projects and cracking down on stoned driving – and not just civil unions. Republicans, meanwhile, run the risk of looking like bullies on social issues.
‘The biggest vulnerability for Republicans is to look extreme,’ Ciruli said.
By November, the issue may pack less punch for both parties. Ciruli pointed to the national debate earlier this year around health insurance coverage for birth control, a controversy that has subsided for the moment.
‘These issues have a tendency to flare up and disappear pretty quickly,’ Ciruli said.” (Denver Post, 5-14-12)