Civil unions: Catholics, conservatives rally to celebrate bill's defeat
A parade of lawmakers briefly took the microphone after McNulty. Senator Kent Lambert, Representative Libby Szabo, Representative Carole Murray, Representative Robert Ramirez and Representative Chris Holbert each thanked the crowd for "your prayers and your support," without blatantly commenting on civil unions.
Senator Ted Harvey, a Highlands Ranch Republican, was more specific; he said the battle was won due to the efforts of Christian men and women, and he praised McNulty and House Majority Leader Amy Stephens for their bold positions. "Thank you to Frank and Amy for taking the shots on behalf of families," Harvey said.
Melanie Asmar House Speaker Frank McNulty addresses the crowd.
When Representative Jim Kerr took to the podium, he got almost as much applause as McNulty. Kerr, a Littleton Republican, is chairman of the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee -- the committee that voted 5-4 last night to kill the civil unions bill. Kerr was one of the five "no" votes. "With your help, we made the difference!" Kerr said. "And with your help, we'll make the difference in November!" He was referring to the November election for state lawmakers, and Kerr made a plea on behalf of Republicans, who hold the majority in the House: "Please keep us there," he said.
Several pastors also spoke. Father Andrew Kemberling of Saint Thomas More Catholic Church in Centennial first led the crowd in a prayer that referenced the "incomparable splendor" of marriage. Then he spoke plainly, saying that "marriage was given to us by God" and that it is a "religious value," not something "for legislatures to tinker around with." He said the current battle is a fight "between democracy and socialism" -- and it's the socialists and atheists who can't accept marriage as a "God-given truth."
Kemberling continued to say that "if we don't stand up now," the socialists will "bully us into silence." He boomed from the podium, "The day will come when they will kill you!"
Afterward, Kemberling declined to speak with Westword to clarify his comments.
The crowd applauded when Pastor Ron Brenning of Grace Chapel in Englewood gave a shout-out to North Carolina, which recently voted to ban gay marriage. Brenning pointed to several kids from Saint Thomas More Catholic School, who stood on the steps in their matching plaid skirts and white polo shirts, holding signs that said, "Protect Marriage." "These little ones over here," Brenning said, "this is our motivation!"
Melanie Asmar Father Andrew Kemberling takes a turn at the podium.
The last pastor to speak was Del Phillips of The House of Worship Center in Denver. Gender is not a choice, Phillips said; "We need to accept the design that God has given us." To illustrate his point, he told a story about an ashtray he made out of clay when he was a child. His ashtray didn't look very traditional, but his mother put it on the living room table anyway, where it sat idle because no one in his house smoked. His point was that the creator decides what the thing he creates should be. In the case of his ashtray, the creator was himself, and he refused to allow his mother to use his creation to hold coins or trinkets. When it comes to gender, he said, the creator is God.
Dan Caplis, the ultra-conservative lawyer and KHOW talk-show host, emceed the event. He ended it by asking the crowd to stand up for the people who stood up for marriage -- presumably at the polls in November. "The fight is on!" Caplis said.
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