For Garrett Mathias, Election Day was like the biggest game of the year, the Democrats being his favorite team.
“Elections are my ‘March Madness,'” said Mathias, a senior political science major with a dark goatee.
Mathias had a party at his apartment Tuesday night to gather about a dozen of his friends and watch election coverage on TV.
“I’ve been planning (the party) for like three weeks,” he said.
Mathias’ friend Elizabeth August, also a senior political science major, chimed in: “It takes a special kind of dork to care this much about politics.”
“I check my political blogs every day,” Mathias said. “I memorized every seat (the Democrats) need to win.”
The apartment was decked out in every way for the election and viewing thereof. American flags lined the sliding doors.
Though Mathias carried around three Crayola markers – red, blue and pink – the entire night and enthusiastically marked down any congressional seat won by a Democrat on large posters on the doors leading to the deck, the hot issues at the party were those relating to gay rights.
The two issues in the election directly connected to gay rights – domestic rights and defining marriage in the constitution – were Referendum I, which failed, but would have created “domestic partnerships,” a designation reserved for same-sex couples in a “long-term, committed relationship,” and Amendment 43, which passed and solidified in the Colorado constitution language that marriage can only be between a man and a woman.
As of 11:38 p.m. Referendum I was set to go down in defeat. With 58 percent of precincts reporting, the measure was down 45 percent to 55 percent.
As of 11:49 p.m. Amendment 43 was up 57 percent to 43 percent, with 60 percent of precincts reporting.
The two measures were particularly close to Mathias, who is gay.
“It’s not quite good enough,” he said about Referendum I. “But it’s a start.”
Despite his immense love of election time, Mathias said it’s often a rough time of year for him.
“I don’t usually feel all that different (because I identify as gay),” Mathias said. “During election season, I am constantly reminded that I am different.”
“It’s time we recognize the rights of the gay and lesbian community,” August added. “They’ve been pretty well ignored to this point.”
August said she was an intern in the last state House of Representatives session, and she heard a representative saying that domestic partnerships, like those identified in Referendum I, would lead to people marrying animals and basically anything.
“If you believe in that kind of domino theory, then (that progression) might make sense,” August said. “But I’d hope we would have a little more sense than that.”
The group became visibly agitated as it became clear Amendment 43 would pass.
“Don’t cry yet, Garrett,” August joked.
Regardless of whether Referendum I passed or failed, Mathias said, the measure didn’t go far enough.
“It’s offensive that people are voting on who I can love or be committed to,” he said.
Between statements, Mathias oohed and aahed at the TV screen – living and dying with each new report of results.
Even if the measure had passed, the domestic partnerships created by it still would have created a double standard, he said.
“(For a domestic partnership), you’d have to be together for a certain amount of time,” he said. “Whereas if I were straight I could pull a ‘Britney Spears’ and go to Vegas and get married whenever I want.”
Mathias added that domestic partnerships, to him, are a throwback to the “separate but equal” days of public education.
“It’s separate, but it’s not equal,” he said. “And they want us to be happy about it.”
It took 60 years to get past “separate but equal,” Mathias said. “I hope it doesn’t take that long to finally legalize same-sex marriage.”
Staff writer Geoff Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.