Colorado’s gay community still angry with Obama | VailDaily.com

Colorado’s gay community still angry with Obama

Jessica Fender
The Denver Post

Granting the domestic partners of federal workers limited job benefits is a step in the right direction and could encourage local governments to follow suit, members of Colorado’s gay-rights community say, but it hasn’t extinguished their anger with President Barack Obama.

Many charge that he failed to live up to campaign promises when the Justice Department recently filed a brief defending the Defense of Marriage Act, passed in 1996, which was bolstered by case law holding incestuous and under-aged marriages invalid. The act says states do not have to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.

But state Rep. Mark Ferrandino said his fellow gay-rights proponents shouldn’t underestimate the importance of Obama’s move to grant new federal benefits for same-sex partners. He successfully pushed a bill granting benefits to state workers’ partners.

As cities and counties compete with the state and federal government for top workers, more will have to consider doing the same, said Ferrandino, D-Denver.

“That’s a huge step forward,” he said. “There are things that we really want as a gay community, but you don’t always get what you want right away.”

At least a dozen cities and counties including Denver, Aspen and Summit County have long included domestic partners in benefits packages, according to the Colorado Municipal League.

Colorado Springs briefly included partners in 2003 but rescinded those benefits when “it became a political football,” said city spokesman John Leavitt. He said the City Council expects to hear a proposal to reinstate those benefits this summer.

“(In 2003) we wanted to continue to be competitive in the market. We certainly didn’t want to have people go elsewhere because those benefits weren’t offered,” Leavitt said, adding the council won’t be swayed by the federal government. “It’s going to be (a question of) does our community demand it.”

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., pointed out Wednesday that the federal benefit extension won’t include health care or retirement benefits because the Defense of Marriage Act remains in place.

“Comparing my loving relationship with my partner, Marlon, to incest was unconscionable coming from a president who has called for change,” said Polis.

Jessica Fender: 303-954-1244 or jfender@denverpost.com.


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