DENVER — Over the last few years, as LGBT advocates have pushed for a new civil unions law, many of them lauded the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Pat Steadman, a long-time lobbyist on equality issues, as “Colorado’s own Harvey Milk.”
On Wednesday, Steadman will be honored at the White House with the “Harvey Milk Champions of Change” award, one of 10 LGBT elected officials receiving the honor.
“It was a really a surprise when I found out about this,” Steadman told FOX31 Denver Monday afternoon. “To be invited to White House and given this award by the president, it doesn’t get much better than that.”
The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White house to feature groups of Americans – individuals, businesses and organizations – who are doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities.
In 1992, Steadman organized the lawsuit challenging “Amendment 2,” the voter-approved anti-gay initiative that made Colorado known for a time as the “Hate State”; the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the statute in 1996 in the landmark Romer v. Evans ruling.
The civil unions legislation was finally passed this year and signed into law in March.
“I remember the days of losing this battle every year, and now it’s clear things are really changing quickly,” Steadman said. “It feels like all of our work is finally paying off.”
On May 1, hundreds of committed Colorado couples entered into civil unions with ceremonies just after midnight when the law went into effect.
It’s been a bittersweet journey this year for Steadman, who lost his long-time partner, Dave Misner, to pancreatic cancer last summer.
Steadman’s mother, Peggy, will be on hand for the ceremony, as will some friends, Capitol lobbyists Ben Waters and Jeff Thormodsgaard, who will accompany him to the White House for the award ceremony Wednesday afternoon.