Amendment 43 on the Nov. 7 ballot would change the Colorado Constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
Let us be crystal clear - this is a purely political amendment that is an unnecessary waste of the voters' time. The only thing to be gained by voting for it is to send a message of intolerance that we know the people of Colorado do not support.
Proponents argue that Amendment 43 preserves "the commonly accepted definition of marriage," and that a constitutional amendment is necessary "to avoid court rulings that expand marriage beyond one man and one woman in Colorado."
But Colorado already has a statutory law in place that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. That law is not under attack, so why are we trying to alter the state's governing document? Here's what we suspect - such amendments were enormously successful in many states in the 2004 election, particularly in getting out the religious right vote.
Amendment 43 serves no useful purpose beyond partisan political pandering. It promotes discrimination based on sexual orientation and has no business in our constitution. It should be rejected.
By contrast, Referendum I is the polar opposite. It seeks to provide the framework to give partners in committed, same-sex relationships access to many of the benefits, protections and responsibilities afforded spouses in marriages.
Referendum I would create "domestic partner certificates" allowing same-sex couples to qualify for health insurance, family leave, workers compensation and other benefits in the same way that married couples do. The law distinguishes between a marriage and a domestic partnership, thus it does not conflict with Colorado's statutory law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
It addresses adoption and child support for domestic partners. It requires domestic partners to assume the same financial responsibilities as spouses in a marriage. The referendum even includes terms for dissolution of a domestic partnership through the court system.
There are reasonable safeguards in place to avoid abuses of the system. Same-sex couples would have to apply for the domestic-partner certificates, and laws would limit who is eligible for such certificates.
Is the system open to abuse? Yes, but no more so than traditional couples who marry to establish legal residency or who simply enter bad marriages.
Besides, because it is a referendum that would be added to the Colorado Revised Statutes, lawmakers can amend it in the future if problems arise.
Committed, long-term monogamous same-sex partners should be able to visit one another in the hospital, make medical decisions for one another and provide family health and life insurance for one another. Referendum I provides an avenue for all of these and more. It is a progressive and reasonable solution to a very real problem.
Referendum I is careful not to infringe upon the traditional definition of marriage and does not attempt to impose individual morality. Rather, it simply makes it more pragmatic for two people who love each other to also care for one another.
Vote yes on Referendum I.