McNulty a hero at ‘pro-marriage’ rally

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DENVER — Embattled House Speaker Frank McNulty’s decision to use procedural maneuvers to kill civil unions legislation twice in six days has drawn the ire of several conservatives, from members of his own caucus to the deep-pocketed GOP donors who showed their disgust Monday by standing with supporters of the bill.

But McNulty’s decision has also made him a hero to social conservatives across the state, a few hundred of whom held their own rally Tuesday afternoon on the Capitol’s west steps to celebrate the bill’s defeat.

“Attacks on family, attacks on marriage continue even as we stand here in front of the state Capitol, and even as we fight to protect those values that we hold so dear,” McNulty told cheering supporters on the steps just outside the window to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office.

“Scream loud and let Gov. John Hickenlooper know that family matters and traditional marriage matters,” McNulty told the crowd, starting a sustained chant.

McNulty’s appearance at the noon rally Tuesday comes after he’s spent several days criticizing Hickenlooper for calling a special session that, in McNulty’s phrasing, is “about passing gay marriage.”

On Monday as the special session began, McNulty called Hickenlooper’s call a “political stunt”.

“We shouldn’t be focusing on these divisive social issues,” McNulty told FOX31 Denver Monday morning. “What we should be focusing on is putting Coloradans back to work.”

By Tuesday afternoon, McNulty’s message to the crowd of supporters was different — that the social issue that’s galvanized voters across the state over the last two weeks is, in his view, an important fight indeed.

“One of the most important things we can do is that we protect marriage, that we defend marriage, and that we defend it against attacks from folks who want to push same-sex marriage on Coloradans,” McNulty told FOX 31 Denver following the rally on Tuesday.

For preventing a vote from taking place on civil unions because he knew he wouldn’t like the inevitable result, McNulty has been criticized for abusing his power by the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, by some members of his own House GOP caucus and by the Denver Post editorial board.

But in the eyes of some ardent conservatives, he’s a hero.

“Speaker Frank McNulty, a real profile in courage,” said radio host Dan Caplis, who emceed the rally.