HRC Blog

Freedom and Union: An Interview with Mario Nicolais

by David Duffield

HRC Colorado contacted Coloradans for Freedom, a Republican group working to bridge the partisan divide along the contentious issue of civil unions. Dedicated to educating and collaborating with Republicans who support equal rights for all, Coloradans for Freedom marks a change in conservative support for civil unions.

“Our main goal is to create a resource for Republicans and others interested in the conservative argument favoring civil unions,” says spokesperson Mario Nicolais.  “Our group has a very clear focus: civil unions.”  Last year, a same-sex civil unions bill was defeated in committee in the House by one vote. 

Nicolais adds, “We have not committed to supporting any specific civil unions bill . . . however, we want it to be clear that there are many Republicans who support the idea of civil unions, and that we want to take a proactive step toward accomplishing that end goal.”  Nicolais points out that Coloradans for Freedom acts as a support group to allow conversation and dialogue for supporters and to engage with those who don’t. 

In an effort to bridge the ideological gulf, Nicolais explains framing the issue of civil unions in a broader context, focusing on tangible, equal rights. “Many of our members do not view this as a gay rights issue but rather an equal rights issue. That is at the heart of our conservative argument. Namely, that the concept of gay rights implies an agenda that gives different rights to different groups while equal rights is at the heart of our core liberty principles.” 

Proponents of civil unions, such as Colorado State Representative Mark Ferrandino, seem enthusiastic about the cross-isle support. “It can't do anything but help the chances of a civil unions bill passing this year,” he stated in a Denver Post article on Jan. 3rd.   A recent statistic from Public Policy Polling shows that 76% of Coloradans support civil unions.  With public support and groups like Coloradans for Freedom and One Colorado, 2012 will likely be the year Colorado becomes the 6th State to allow civil unions.

Click here to read the Denver Post article: “Colorado GOP group organizes support for civil unions.”