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Utah Same-Sex Marriage Case Has Implications For Colorado

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It may take months before the U.S. Court of Appeals in Denver decides on Utah’s same-sex marriage ban. Dave Montez, executive director of One Colorado, the state’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy group says they're watching the challenge.There’s a reason; Colorado has a similar constitutional amendment on the books.

“What’s unfolding in Utah is further proof that none of the pathways to marriage are likely going to be simple or quick,” said Dave Montez, One Colorado’s new executive director. “Siding for marriage equality in our courts can be unpredictable and complicated.”

Montez – who replaced outgoing director Brad Clark late last year – says similar to what's occurring in Utah, litigation is on the table here in Colorado to allow same-sex marriage, but there’s also the possibility of a ballot initiative which would bring the question to a vote. That puts it back in front of the public that voted in 2006 to enshrine the ban in the state constitution.

Since then attitudes have shifted. A 2012 poll released by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic survey company, reports that a majority of Coloradans support same-sex marriage. Less than 30 percent now say there should be no legal recognition.

Credit One Colorado
Dave Montez, new executive director of One Colorado.

“Here in Colorado, winning marriage for our families is not a question of if, it’s a matter of when, and how,” said Montez. “We know it’s critical to run a robust statewide public education campaign alongside any litigation or organizing effort.”

While securing marriage equality in Colorado is a key focus for One Colorado in 2014, the group has been actively discussing other issues as well.

“LGBT issues aren’t just about relationship recognition, non-discrimination and safe schools; we also care about learning, and voting without barriers,” Montez said. “We care about women having the freedom to make their own health choices. We care about immigration reform, about schools being adequately resourced; we care about low income families having the health coverage they need to make ends meet.”

Predicting what lies ahead in 2014 isn’t easy, but Montez says more legal challenges to marriage bans are possible, as well as more people in the public eye feeling comfortable coming out and supporting LGBT rights.

“So what I think we’re going to see in 2014 is an increase in people coming out, people being honest and open about who they are,” Montez said. “I hope that some of those people coming out and discussing their lives happens in the sports world. I think that there’s a lot that can happen when an professional athlete comes out and talks about his story.”

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