During the May 4 Colorado House vote for the “Protecting The Freedom to Marry” measure, which asks voters to repeal the ban on same-sex marriage that Colorado currently has in the State Constitution, one Democrat, Rep. Regina English (D-Colorado Springs) voted against the measure.

“Marriage is a basic freedom that should not be denied to anyone.” said Sen. Joann Ginal (D-Ft. Collins), sponsor of SCR24-003 in a news release. “In the United States, freedom means freedom for everyone. No member of anybody’s family — gay or straight — should be singled out for unfair treatment or denied their basic American freedom, just because of who they are and who they love.” 

Colorado’s ban on same-sex marriage hasn’t had the force of law since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell ruling in 2015, which established a national right for same-sex couples to marry. However, as happened with the Dobbs decision that overturned the right to abortion established in Roe v. Wade, should the Supreme Court reverse its previous ruling on marriage, Colorado’s ban would again become law if it is still in the state constitution.

English joined members of Colorado’s Republican caucus to vote to deny the basic freedom of marriage to LGBTQ people. During previous contentious LGBTQ bills this session, — Non-Legal Name Changes and Name Change to Conform with Gender Identity — English was excused from voting.

“We know that Rep. English has supported the LGBTQ+ community in the Colorado Springs area in the past, and One Colorado hopes to continue the conversation with Rep. English about allyship,” said a spokesperson from One Colorado, an LGBTQ advocacy group and proponent of the measure, in an email. “We are not interested in scrutinizing individual votes at this time to take away from this major victory for LGBTQ+ Coloradans and our families. Now it is up to the Colorado voters to decide, and we are confident they will protect the freedom to marry.”

New Era Colorado, also a proponent of the measure, expressed disappointment at English’s vote. “Here at New Era, the freedom to marry regardless of gender and sexual identity is not only a value we hold but something we advocate for loudly with young people across the state,” said Kiyana Newell, Policy Manager at New Era Colorado, in an email. “We are dishearted to see some elected officials actively vote against creating a more safe and equitable world for queer and trans young people. Though the legislative session is over, we want to remind legislators to think about how their decisions impact all young people and to remember that we are one-third of the electorate who are not afraid to make our opinions known through the ballot box.” 

English (left) during an event for Colorado’s openly gay governor, Jared Polis.

English did not respond to a request for comment on her vote, nor did the El Paso County Democratic Party. Last year, the El Paso County Democratic Party singled out school board candidate Alvin Sexton for his response to a Truth and Liberty candidate survey with questions about transgender issues and critical race theory, and subsequently removed him from his position as a precinct organizer. Sexton has since changed his political affiliation to the Republican Party.

“Our principles are guided by respect for truth and logic, as well as deep-rooted compassion and empathy for the struggles faced by all communities,” read the Oct. 30, 2023 news release from the El Paso County Democratic Party condemning Sexton. “We believe this position is not just a political imperative but a moral obligation to create a more just and inclusive society. Our commitment to these issues is non-negotiable and any representatives holding positions within our party are expected to uphold these basic tenets of justice, equality, and human rights.”

In a Facebook comment on their post condemning Sexton, the El Paso County Democrats claimed, “Our allyship is genuine and not merely performative.”

UPDATE: Rob Rogers, the first vice chair of the El Paso County Democratic Party, issued the following statement via email:

“The El Paso County Democratic Party unequivocally supports marriage equality as a fundamental civil right. The resolution, SCR 24-003, aims to amend the Colorado constitution to protect the freedom to marry, regardless of gender. This initiative aligns with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges and reflects the values of equality and inclusivity that are central to our community in Colorado.

We are disheartened by Rep. English’s decision to vote against this resolution, which stands in contrast to the overwhelming support for LGBTQ+ rights within our party, as evidenced by our state and national platforms. It is important to recognize that the journey towards full equality often involves complex discussions and challenges, even among members of the same party.

In accordance with Section 2.1 of the El Paso County Democratic Party’s Plan of Organization and Rules, it is the responsibility and within the authority of our county chair to address positions or actions of elected officials that diverge from our party’s platform and values. We intend to engage with Rep. English to understand her perspectives and ensure alignment with our foundational principles.

Additionally, we request understanding regarding the constraints faced by our all-volunteer organization. Given that we were provided less than 24 hours’ notice to research this issue and formulate a response, we urge amendments to reporting to reflect our position.

As this amendment progresses, we encourage all Coloradans to actively participate in this important dialogue to safeguard equality and dignity for everyone in our state. We remain committed to advancing civil rights and fostering an inclusive environment for all our citizens.”

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include a response from the El Paso County Democratic Party.