Colorado teen abandons marriage equality initiative

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Thursday, September 08, 2011 at 5:57 pm | More from The Colorado Independent

The grassroots political dream crashed, like so many others, on the shoals of big-bucks ballot-initiative finances. Mark Olmstead, a 19-year-old Colorado voter, was spurred earlier this year by high-profile gay rights advances and increasing popular support for gay rights to try to land an initiative on the ballot in Colorado that would repeal the state’s ban on gay marriage. Nic Garcia at Out Front Colorado reports today that Olmstead decided to withdrawal his initiative after failing to win backing for the business of gathering roughly 100,000 signatures by January.

“I realized this would be a very costly and time consuming campaign,” Olmstead told Garcia. “It would be very difficult to pull off by myself.”

The initiative would require 86,105 valid signatures but many submitted signatures are routinely tossed as invalid.

Prominent gay rights group One Colorado backed an LGBT civil unions bill that nearly passed in this year’s legislative session. Representatives of the group said a ballot initiative would be extremely expensive, not just to successfully collect the required signatures but also to campaign on behalf of the initiative during election season and battle traditionally deep-pocketed opposition.

Director Brad Clark told the Colorado Independent he believed the legislature was the place to wage this battle. He said voters send their representatives to the capitol to fight for citizen rights and that demanding that they vote in favor of equality should come as no real stretch in the contemporary United States.

Opponents of the civil unions bill, however, argued that Colorado voters had banned gay marriage with a ballot initiative in 2006 and that it should fall to the voters to repeal it at the ballot box.

Denver Democratic lawmakers Mark Ferrandino and Pat Steadman, sponsors of the civil unions initiative, have vowed to reintroduce it again in 2012.

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Shad Siewert
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