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Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper lays out his plans for the next state legislative session at a news conference in his office at the Capitol in Denver Dec. 19, 2013. (REUTERS/Rick Wilking) Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper lays out his plans for the next state legislative session at a news conference in his office at the Capitol in Denver Dec. 19, 2013. (REUTERS/Rick Wilking)  

Hickenlooper supports gay marriage, quietly

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper came out in support of gay marriage this week, but he didn’t exactly shout it from the mountaintops.

Instead, his views were lumped in with quotes from other liberal lawmakers in a press release by One Colorado, an LGBT group campaigning for same sex marriage.

“We have advocated for equal rights for all Coloradans and we will continue to advocate for equal rights for all Coloradans,” Hickenlooper is quoted as saying near the end of the press release.

“Last year, Colorado took a historic step forward when we passed bipartisan legislation recognizing civil unions,” he said. “If all men and women truly have the inalienable right to pursue happiness, and if all people are created equal, then by extension of law, logic, and love, every adult couple should also have the freedom to join in marriage.”

During an effort to legalize civil unions in 2006, Hickenlooper took pains to distinguish them from marriage, even appearing in an ad in which he says, “It’s not marriage, it’s basic civil rights.”

When the issue arose again in 2012, he pointed out that civil unions can’t be equated to marriage because the Colorado constitution defines marriage as between one man and one woman.

One Colorado — along with the American Civil Liberties Union and a group called Freedom to Marry — hopes to change the constitution through a citizen’s initiative to allow same sex couples to marry.

“The campaign centers on the core principle that all loving, committed couples should have the freedom to marry in the state that they call home,” according to the press release announcing the initiative, which launched this week.

Currently, same-sex couples joined in civil unions in Colorado have nearly identical benefits and responsibilities as married heterosexual couples, except they can’t file joint state tax returns or call themselves “married.”

When asked by Denver’s 9News why Hickenlooper changed his public stance on same-sex marriage, a spokesman said, “[T]he quote in the press release speaks for itself.”

That it’s buried in a press release may also speak to Hickenlooper’s need to walk a fine line on progressive policies as he seeks re-election this year. After a Democratic-dominated 2013 legislative session in which even Hickenlooper admitted Democrats might have over-reached on issues like gun control and other progressive issues, he’s attempted to appear more bipartisan.

Seven Republican candidates are vying to unseat him in November, saying he’s led Colorado too far to the left.

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