From co-sponsoring the Employment Non-discrimination Act (ENDA) and working to repeal the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, in addition to his support for marriage equality, Colorado Senator Mark Udall has voted consistently with the LGBT community’s interest at heart.
But Sen. Udall is in danger of losing his seat in this year’s midterm election to Republican candidate and Colorado Representative Cory Gardner. The Denver Post reported in a September poll that Udall is pulling slightly ahead, but that the race is essentially a statistical tie.
“Sen. Udall has consistently been out there fighting for equality,” says Kristen Lynch, press secretary for Udall for Colorado. “That’s why it’s so important that in this election, people stand by him.”
Out Front reached out to Rep. Gardner’s campaign, but the congressman did not respond to multiple requests for an interview. As of the completion of this article, Gardner’s website does not take a position on any LGBT issue, including his position on same-sex marriage.
However, when gay marriage became legal in Colorado on Oct. 7, Gardner told Fox31 Denver, “My views on marriage have long been clear. I believe we must treat each other with dignity and respect. This issue is in the hands of the courts and we must honor their legal decisions.”
Gardner’s record as a Colorado state representative reveals that he consistently fought against legislation granting numerous rights to the Colorado LGBT community.
“I think the most egregious vote was blocking couples from adopting children in the state house,” says Lynch, commenting on his 2007 vote to keep same-sex couples from adopting in Colorado. Gardner also attempted to block same-sex couples from jointly planning their estate and voted against a bill prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination in 2008.
Conversely, Lynch highlighted Udall’s work as a US Senator at the local level. “He was a big supporter of civil unions and same-sex benefits, whether V.A. partners with people who are in the military or making sure that same-sex domestic partners get the same Social Security benefits that straight couples would receive.”
Lynch also reassured LGBT Colorado voters that Sen. Udall will continue his work for the LGBT community in his next term. “At the top of his list is the Employment Non-discrimination Act,” she says, adding that the US House has failed to act on the measure.
She emphasized that the senator will work to make certain all same-sex partners receive federal benefits, pointing to Tracy Johnson’s year-long battle with the military to be awarded survivor benefits from her deceased wife, Staff Sergeant Donna Johnson, killed in Afghanistan by a suicide bomber.
“And while marriage equality is certainly gaining steam,” says Lynch, “the fact that the Supreme Court hasn’t taken it up has created a patchwork across the US, with some states allowing discrimination in terms of marriage equality and others supporting marriage equality. I know that making sure this is a blanket right everyone has, no matter if they’re born in Alabama or California or Colorado, is something else we need to