DENVER -- Tim Gill, the software magnate whose personal wealth helped Colorado Democrats build a dynamic, durable political infrastructure and financed the state's biggest LGBT advocacy group, slammed the Republican 2014 ticket for opposing marriage equality at a rally celebrating the state's first marriage licenses being issues to same-sex couples.
Kicking off a rally outside the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which overturned Utah's same-sex marriage ban effectively allowing for same-sex marriage in Colorado and the other states under its jurisdiction, Gill criticized GOP gubernatorial nominee Bob Beauprez and U.S. Senate hopeful Cory Gardner, who, he said, "have long histories of opposing our freedom to marry."
"It's like having two Marilyn Musgraves on the ballot, only they aren't that snappy of dressers," Gill said, alluding to the former Colorado congresswoman from northern Colorado who sponsored a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, which she also memorably called the biggest problem facing the country.
"They must not win. We must send a message to those who oppose the basic freedom, the freedom to marry, that they are not fit to represent us."
The sudden recognition of same-sex marriage in 30 states so far isn't a major "October surprise" likely to dramatically alter this year's midterm election, but it has the potential to serve as a rallying point for the Democratic base and, at least in Colorado, to draw out Republican candidates on an issue where their position is increasingly out of step with a majority of voters.
Gill, who is known to be an introvert and rarely speaks publicly, then turned the stage over to Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, who eschewed attacking Beauprez directly after Gill had done it for him.
"This is a moment of proof that love does conquer all," Hickenlooper said. "Love and a whole lot of perseverance from people like Tim Gill and all of you here."
Hickenlooper reminded the crowd of roughly 300 people that he has long stood for equality and that he called a special legislation session in 2012 after House Republicans refused to allow a final vote on civil unions legislation that was in position to pass and become law (it was quickly passed and signed into law the following year after Republicans lost control of the House).
"This is America and this is the first nation founded on that principle that we are all equal," Hickenlooper said. "This moment confirms what's in our hearts, that by every extension of law, logic and love every adult couple should have the freedom to join in marriage."
Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, who has criticized Gardner for not supporting marriage equality, also spoke at the rally, which lasted an hour.
House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, state Sen. Pat Steadman and Republican attorney Mario Nicolais were among the few dozen speakers who address the crowd at the hour-long rally, all vowing to continue to fight to advance LGBT rights.