When I was a junior at Steamboat Springs High School in 1975, there was a huge controversy when the Boulder County clerk began issuing same-sex marriage licenses. It was a national story, but it was really big news in Steamboat, as the clerk had grown up there and her father was the longtime clerk in our county.
My reaction at the time, along with most everyone I knew, was one of disbelief. While I knew gay people, the concept of their marrying was so outside the mainstream of common beliefs at the time that no one I knew came close to thinking same-sex marriage was something that could be taken seriously.
When our state constitution was amended in 1992 to prohibit governments in Colorado from establishing sexual orientation as a protected class, I was outraged and ashamed, and was pleased when both the Colorado and the U.S. Supreme Courts found the amendment unconstitutional. The controversy over that amendment opened a debate on same-sex marriage. When then-governor Roy Romer weighed in on the issue and said there should be formal recognition of same-sex unions, but that marriage should be reserved for a man and a woman, I found myself agreeing with him on both counts.
By the time we voted to define marriage between a man and a woman in our state constitution in 2006, I reassessed my position again. My initial reaction was to vote yes, but as I thought through the issue, the arguments for it became less persuasive to me. I couldn’t articulate a reason that same-sex couples should not be able to marry. When someone I knew who routinely cheated on his wife with the justification that God made him a sinner and that he was forgiven for his sins suggested that gay marriage would diminish my marriage, while his disregard for his own wife and marriage was OK, my transformation was complete. I concluded that any two people should be able to marry and voted against the amendment.
Over 30 years, I saw my position on same-sex marriage morph from something so outlandish that it couldn’t be considered seriously to something for which there was no logical reason to oppose.
In the wake of federal court decisions in our circuit and decisions by state courts in Colorado, it looks like same-sex marriage is on the horizon in Colorado. It seems that the same transformation I’ve experienced has been experienced by society as a whole.
There are still people violently opposed to same-sex marriage, and for that reason, I’d like it if we proactively amend our state constitution to repeal the existing marital provision and the legislature changes the definition of marriage in state statutes rather than have the change occur by judicial action.
But regardless of how it occurs, it will be a good thing when Colorado joins the 19 states that sanction same-sex marriage in the relatively near future.
Greg Romberg is president of Romberg and Associates, a government relations and public affairs firm. He lives in Evergreen with his wife, Laurie, and three daughters.