Fact Check

Focus On The Family’s Minnery Peddles Distortions About Colorado's Civil Union Bill

March 02, 2012 2:16 pm ET

Democratic Colorado lawmakers -- led by Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) -- are pushing for a state law that would legalize civil unions, providing partnered gays and lesbians with rights similar to those provided to married heterosexual couples. On February 29, Focus on the Family’s Citizenlink executive director Tom Minnery wrote an online column for the Denver Post condemning the proposed law by peddling a number of distortions about the “impact” of same-sex civil unions.

Minnery Falsely Claims Civil Unions Bill Force Children To Learn About Homosexuality, Gay Marriage In School

Minnery: Civil Union Law “Jeopardizes The Rights Of Parents” To Educate Children About Sexuality, Marriage. From Minnery’s February 29 Denver Post column:

The Denver Post recently quoted former state Rep. Rob Witwer saying civil unions are not a threat to his marriage. If this were only about Witwer's marriage, we wouldn't have an issue. But the impact goes much further as it jeopardizes the rights of parents to have a say in what's taught to their children in school — even as young as kindergarten — about sexuality and marriage. [The Denver Post, 2/29/12]

Colorado Schools Are Not Required To Teach Students About Sexuality. According to the National Coalition to Support Sexuality Education (NCSSE):

Colorado schools are not required to teach sexuality or sexually transmitted disease (STD) education. Colorado law states that districts can decide whether to teach sexuality education and may address the subject in preschool through twelfth grade. Colorado law also states that when offered, sexuality education classes must use curricula that are science-based, age-appropriate, culturally sensitive, medically accurate, and address the topics of both abstinence and contraception, including emergency contraception. [NCSSE, accessed 2/29/12]

Colorado Law Requires Parental Consent For School Programs On Sexuality. According to Colorado state law:

(6) (a) Any curriculum and materials developed and used in teaching sexuality and human reproduction shall include values and responsibility and shall give primary emphasis to abstinence by school aged children.

(b) School officials shall receive prior written approval from a parent or guardian before his or her child may participate in any program discussing or teaching sexuality and human reproduction. Parents must receive, with the written permission slip, an overview of the topics and materials to be presented in the curriculum. [CRS § 22-25-104, accessed 2/29/12]

Colorado Curriculum Is Finalized At The District, Not State, Level. Brad Clark, Executive Director of ONE Colorado, wrote in an email to Equality Matters:

In the state of Colorado, school curriculum is finalized at the district level. Additionally, any parent who is uncomfortable with school curriculum can opt their children out of human growth and development classes. [Brad Clark Email, 3/2/12]

Minnery Claims Falsely Civil Unions Bill Would Endanger Business Owners

Minnery: Law Would Endanger Business Owners Who Refuse To Support Same-Sex Ceremonies. In his February 29 Denver Post column, Minnery writes that the civil unions bill “endangers business owners who are sued for not photographing or renting facilities for same-sex ceremonies.” [The Denver Post, 2/29/12]

Colorado Businesses Are Already Prohibited From Discriminating On The Basis Of Sexual Orientation. According to ONE Colorado’s Clark:

State law protects all Coloradans from discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation (including transgender status), marital status, national origin, or ancestry. This law, passed in 2008, ensures that all people have equal access to the services they need -- from hotels and photographers to stores and restaurants. [Brad Clark Email, 3/2/12]

Colorado Law Already Prohibits Discrimination Against Same-Sex Couples. According to the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, Civil Rights Division:

What does the expanded Colorado  Anti-Discrimination Act now prohibit?

Places of public accommodation may not deny any person participation, entry, or services based upon the person’s sexual orientation, including transgender status.

What is a “place of public accommodation”?

A public accommodation is any place of business engaged in offering sales or services of any kind to the public, as well as any place offering facilities, privileges, advantages or other accommodations to the public. Typical examples of public accommodations include, but are not limited to, hotels, restaurants, stores, hospitals, clinics, and health clubs. [Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, accessed 2/29/12]

Colorado Law Prohibits Discrimination In Public Services On The Basis Of Sexual Orientation. According to Colorado state law:

24-34-601. Discrimination in places of public accommodation - definition.

(1) As used in this part 6, "place of public accommodation" means any place of business engaged in any sales to the public and any place offering services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations to the public, including but not limited to any business offering wholesale or retail sales to the public; any place to eat, drink, sleep, or rest, or any combination thereof; any sporting or recreational area and facility; any public transportation facility; a barber shop, bathhouse, swimming pool, bath, steam or massage parlor, gymnasium, or other establishment conducted to serve the health, appearance, or physical condition of a person; a campsite or trailer camp; a dispensary, clinic, hospital, convalescent home, or other institution for the sick, ailing, aged, or infirm; a mortuary, undertaking parlor, or cemetery; an educational institution; or any public building, park, arena, theater, hall, auditorium, museum, library, exhibit, or public facility of any kind whether indoor or outdoor. "Place of public accommodation" shall not include a church, synagogue, mosque, or other place that is principally used for religious purposes.

(2) It is a discriminatory practice and unlawful for a person, directly or indirectly, to refuse, withhold from, or deny to an individual or a group, because of disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, or ancestry, the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of a place of public accommodation or, directly or indirectly, to publish, circulate, issue, display, post, or mail any written, electronic, or printed communication, notice, or advertisement that indicates that the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of a place of public accommodation will be refused, withheld from, or denied an individual or that an individual's patronage or presence at a place of public accommodation is unwelcome, objectionable, unacceptable, or undesirable because of disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, or ancestry. [CRS § 24-34-601, emphasis added, accessed 3/2/12]

Minnery Claims Civil Unions Deny Children The Chance To Be Raised By Their Mother And Father

Minnery: Civil Unions Create “Intentionally Motherless Or Fatherless” Families For Children. From Minnery’s February 29 Denver Post column:

Mostly, it impacts children who deserve every chance to be raised in a home with their own married mom and dad rather than the intentionally motherless or fatherless home created by same-sex unions.

Colorado Law Already Allows Second Parent Adoption For Gay Couples. According to ONE Colorado:

In 2007, Governor Ritter signed a bill into law that allows unmarried couples to adopt each other’s children. This law also affords same-sex couples the opportunity to jointly accept the legal rights of being a parent. Under this law, children of LGBT couples will now have two legal parents. [ONE Colorado, accessed 2/29/12]

Colorado’s Second Parent Adoption Law Provides Gay Couples With Nearly Equal Parental Rights. According to Equal Rights Colorado:

The second parent adoption law enables any two unmarried adults to co-parent one another’s children. If a sole legal parent consents, a second adult may adopt the legal parent’s child, provided the second adult undergoes a home study and passes a criminal background check. Prior to the passage of this law, only single people (gay or straight) or married couples could adopt.


Unmarried opposite- or same-sex adults already acting as parents are able to consent to medical care and make other legal decisions for their children. [Equal Rights Colorado, accessed 2/29/12]

Civil Union Law Addresses Parental Rights After Same-Sex Couple Separates. According to the Associated Press:

The bill addresses parental rights and child support when a same-sex couple separates. The bill would also grant same-sex couples other rights similar to what exist in a traditional marriage, such as the ability to be involved in their partner's medical and end-of-life decisions. It also would enhance inheritance and property rights. [Associated Press, 2/16/12]

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