Two November ballot issues brought students and community members together Saturday for “A Day of Action” – one that would provide more rights for same-sex couples and the other boosting minimum wage by $1.70.
Referendum I would enact the “Colorado Domestic Partnership Benefits and Responsibilities Act.”
According to the Colorado General Assembly Web site, www.leg.state.co.us, if passed Referendum I will establish “legal domestic partnerships in the state of Colorado. It also specifies eligibility requirements, definitions, procedures, rights, responsibilities and means for terminating domestic partnerships.”
“We want to provide a dignified relationship [for homosexual couples],” said Jeff Thormodsgaard, Boulder regional field director for Coloradans for Fairness, a group that supports both measures.
Mark Lee, a former pastor at the Metropolitan Community Church of the Rockies, said he was surprised with the variety of people at the event.
“A lot of people are supporting Referendum I,” he said. “Not because they think it’s their issue, but because they believe it’s right.”
The day began with a brief session held at the Community of Christ Church, 220 Oak St., and included talks on demonstration safety and short speeches from representatives from two campaign groups before heading out to the rally and the rest of the day’s action.
Though it is commonly confused with the amendment that deals with defining marriage as being between a man and a woman – Amendment 43 – Referendum I does not provide nearly as many benefits to same-sex couples.
“There are 1,100 marriage rights that don’t pertain to domestic partnerships,” Thormodsgaard said.
Instead, the referendum will guarantee gay and lesbian couples such things as the right to visit a partner in the hospital, make funeral arrangements and secure inheritance rights.
Lee spoke about his own personal reasons for coming out Saturday when he told the story of a homosexual couple who attended his church.
One woman experienced hardship when her partner died unexpectedly.
Because there was no will in place, the woman lost her partner along with their shared possessions.
“The real tragedy was not that she lost the equity,” he said. “It was that she lost the friendship with her partner’s parents.”
The volunteers also advocated Amendment 42, which calls for a sharp increase in the state’s minimum wage.
According to the Colorado General Assembly Web site, if Amendment 42 is passed it will increase Colorado’s minimum wage to $6.85 per hour, up from $5.15, the current federal minimum wage.
Wages would also be adjusted annually for economic inflation.
Planned Parenthood states that an income of $206 a week isn’t enough to bring a single parent with one child over the poverty level, even if the parent works full-time hours 52 weeks a year.
“It’s been nine years since the minimum wage has been revised,” said Bill Vandenberg, co-executive director for the Colorado Progressive Coalition. “Costs go up and wages should as well.”
Audrey LaSalle, a senior accounting major and Coloradans for Fairness intern, said lots of people are politically apathetic.
“Apathy is probably our biggest concern,” she said. “You live here. You should care about the issues that are here.”
Julian Stanelle, a junior sociology student and member of Voices for Planned Parenthood, was of the same mindset.
“You’d think more college students would be interested,” he said, adding that many students probably don’t know about either issue. “I can’t imagine students being apathetic about something like this.”
Assistant news editor Marissa Hutton-Gavel can be reached at email@example.com.
Referendum I proposes a change to the Colorado statutes that:
/ Creates a new legal relationship, called a domestic partnership, providing same-sex couples the opportunity to obtain the legal protections and responsibilities granted to married couples by Colorado law.
/ Defines the criteria and process for entering into a domestic partnership.
/ Specifies that domestic partnerships are not marriage and do not change the public policy of the state, which defines marriage only as the union of one man and one woman.
Amendment 42 proposes a change to Article XVIII of the Colorado Constitution that:
/ Raises the minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $6.85 per hour and adjusts the wage annually for inflation.
/ Increases the minimum wage for workers who regularly receive tips from $2.13 per hour to $3.83 per hour and adjusts it annually by the same dollar amount as the minimum wage for non-tipped workers.
-Source: Colorado Legislative Council