Despite special session, Speaker McNulty threatens to derail civil unions bill
DENVER — Supporters of civil unions in Colorado will gather at 9 a.m. Monday on the West steps of the state capital.
They are hoping to convince the man holding their fate in his hands, Republican Speaker Frank McNulty, to give their bill a full and fair hearing as the special session of the Colorado Legislature opens.
Regardless of your opinion on civil unions, there is no doubt pressure on Rep. McNulty is rising.
“I can’t help but think he is on the wrong side of the political issue and probably the wrong side of history on this issue,” said Eric Sondermann, a political analyst.
Speaker McNulty used his gavel to run the clock out on the civil unions bill last Tuesday even though the bill had bi-partisan support. The bill had passed several house and senate committees and would have been approved as law but the Speaker decided to kill it late Tuesday night.
Several other viable bills died along with it, and Wednesday Governor John Hickenlooper called a special session to reconsider all of the legislation. Sunday, Hickenlooper appeared on CNN to defend the special session.
“I worked in the restaurant business for 20 years alongside these people. They work just as hard as the rest of us and deserve equal rights,” said Hickenlooper.
McNulty is under increasing pressure to allow the bill to get a full and fair hearing even though he does not support it. In interviews he has said he wants to focus on bills that unite Colorado and not ones that divide it.
Last Thursday McNulty signaled he may kill the bill by assigning it to a committee where it will not pass, or by assigning it to one of the committees it passed out of, but changing the republicans on the committee so that the bill will fail.
“It’s a total reset,” McNulty said referring to the start of the special session.
Reached Sunday, McNulty’s office said he’d made no decision on whether he would act to kill the bill unilaterally.
Analysts say he must decide whether he wants to allow a full and fair debate, or be prepared to become the face of the anti-gay rights movement in Colorado.