Fraser couple weds after eleven years together |

Fraser couple weds after eleven years together

There was no wedding planner for Fraser residents Eric Van Herwaarden and Philip Naill's July 11 wedding in downtown Denver. No tuxedo rentals. No fragrant bouquets or champagne toasts. But there was a lot of celebrating. "I can't tell you how welcoming everyone was, and how excited they were to be able to finally do this," Van Herwaarden said of the Denver county clerk staff who guided them through the process. Van Herwaarden and Naill said "I do" during a maelstrom of legal activity regarding the rights of gay couples to marry in Colorado. The family went to Denver that day for a doctor's appointment for their 2-year-old son, Jacob. "It was kind of spur of the moment," said Van Herwaarden. "We thought, we're in a county that recognizes our commitment to each other." That commitment began in 2003 when the two met and began their relationship. Since then, they've bought a home, cared for their brood of pugs, and in the fall of 2011, adopted their son. They refer to each other as "my spouse," and did so before the marriage certificate was issued. But having the official license makes a difference to them. "Jacob put his handprint on the marriage license … he was our witness and that just kind of tied our family together," said Van Herwaarden. "We've been together for 11 years so obviously we are together for better or worse. It was kind of like we sealed a contract together. We would have to get divorced now if we separated," said Naill. Earlier Civil union The pair performed a civil union in Grand County earlier this year and plans to have a reception sometime this fall. They are in the process of changing their last name to Vandernail, which is already Jacob's last name. "I think it's good for Jacob because when he grows older he can tell his friends, 'yeah, his dads are married, just like your mom and dad are married.' So I think it's good for him, too," said Van Herwaarden. July 11 was the second day that Denver County issued marriage certificates to same-sex couples. On July 9, Adam's County District Court Judge C. Scott Crabtree ruled that Colorado's gay marriage ban violates constitutional rights, but the decision is stayed pending review from a higher court. His decision followed another case in which the Tenth District Court, which includes Colorado, struck down Utah's ban on gay marriage. "That's what everyone is starting to see — it is unconstitutional to have a ban against same-sex couples," said Van Herwaarden of the recent cases. "Our rights were voted upon, and it shouldn't be that way." Naill and Van Herwaarden saw other same-sex couples at the Denver Courthouse the day they married. "We took a number and got it line, just like everyone else. It was awesome. There were brides and grooms and grooms and grooms. It finally felt like we had some normality to our relationship, just like everyone else," said Van Herwaarden. Three Colorado counties issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples: Boulder, Denver, and Pueblo. All were ordered to stop. Colorado Attorney General John Suthers went to the Colorado Supreme Court to order them to cease issuing the licenses until the higher courts decide. Denver and Pueblo acquiesced, but Boulder continues. A federal Judge is scheduled to hear arguments on the case beginning next Tuesday. No marriages in Grand Before going to Denver, Naill called the Grand County Clerk and Recorder's office to inquire if they could get married in the county where they live. County Clerk Sara Rosene was advised not to by her attorney. When the Sky Hi News contacted her for a comment, she stood by her decision. "State law at that point mandated that a marriage license be between a man and a woman," she said. Her reaction to their request, along with the recent results of a poll at, has made the couple more willing to be in the spotlight. The poll on, asked "Do you applaud momentum in support of gay-marriage rights in Colorado?" 67.27 percent of respondents said no. "The poll results up here on the website were a little hurtful because there are gay families up here and I want people to know that," said Van Herwaarden. Naill and Van Herwaarden are active members in the Fraser Valley community — Naill serves on the Fraser Town Board. Their son is growing up here. "We're part of your community. For you to say that our marriage isn't as valid as yours or that you don't agree with it is not fair," said Naill.

Jessica Rose: I support same sex marriage

To the Editor: Yes I do stand up with President Obama and Joe Biden and I do support same sex marriage as well myself, and because this is a matter of civil rights, and it is, plus this is America we live in and civil rights violations have been going on way too long, it is time for America to wake up and realize that same-sex couples should be given the same rights to a legal marriage as heterosexual couples. This about two people who love each other and this is about same-sex families who have been denied their constitutional basic legal civil rights. It is time to open doors and allow for same sex marriage to become law in Colorado. I am so sick and tired of all this bigotry and hate toward those who are different than they are, plus we have Republicans getting into shouting matches with Democrats and just constantly arguing and fighting all the time over same-sex marriage and civil unions. I am glad to see Gov. Hickenlooper step in and call a special session at the Capitol in Denver. Jessica Rose Kremmling

Letter: Let’s hope for marriage equality

Thank you for running the story about Philip Naill and Eric Van Herwaarden getting their marriage certificate. Hopefully, one day, they can be truly and legally married in Grand County as well as anywhere else. Sadly the people who are denying them this happiness are also people who are free to enjoy this right themselves. How fair is that? Divorce is a bigger threat to marriage than people who love each other. We could use a little more love and tolerance given all the problems in the world right now. Best wishes for a happy future, Philip, Eric, and little Jacob. Jane Tollett Tabernash

Letter: Same-sex couples should have legal rights

To the Editor: Passions rise when talk turns to the topic of same-sex marriage, as exemplified recently in the opinion section of this newspaper. The debate always seems to revolve around a simple choice: should it be legal or not? Like most political issues, the issue is reduced to black or white, and the public is asked to choose one or the other. That is the problem with politics — nothing is simply black or white, and whichever way the vote goes, many people will be offended and the problem remains. One does not hear much about why people take the side they do. Is same-sex marriage a religious issue for them, a moral issue, a violation of their sensibilities, or an economic/political issue? If a person offered a valid rationale for their position, then perhaps an acceptable compromise could be reached. Here are my thoughts about it. Most marriages are performed in a church or synagogue by an ordained minister or rabbi. It is a religious ceremony and presumed to be righteous in the sight of God. Some marriages are performed by a political appointee and are strictly civil/legal ceremonies sanctioned by the state. Religious marriages, of course, must also be registered and sanctioned by the state. We have two different sanctioning authorities (God and state), yet the same word for each ceremony. Suppose we all agree to recognize the difference and call the religious ceremony a marriage and the legal ceremony something else. Civil union has been used, but perhaps a more acceptable term is needed. Once that takes place, there should be no further objection to same-sex "union" based on religious grounds. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…". If we accept that statement from our Declaration of Independence, then all men and women have the right to enjoy the benefits and grievances of our tax laws, regardless of their sexual orientation. After all, civil union is basically a taxation issue, while marriage is a religious issue, about which the state, constitutionally, can have no say. If the same-sex union clearly has no religious component, then people would have no valid objection to it on religious grounds. Back then to the civil objections. America was founded on the belief that we all have the unalienable right to the pursuit of happiness. No exceptions are listed, neither by gender, age, color, or sexual orientation. Making same-sex unions illegal denies some that right. Finally, there is the objection that the implied moral decline will eventually lead to the demise of the United States as happened to ancient Rome. As stated previously, the basic issue is about one's status as a tax victim of the state. Liberal/socialistic policies about government will bring about its demise long before social issues like racism, sexual orientation, drug usage, abortion, and marriage have much effect. Same-sex marriage? Give it a new name and enjoy the widespread happiness that ensues. Leave individuals alone to resolve their own religious conflicts. If God objects, He can handle it. Live and let live; just be sure the wording accurately expresses what is meant. Jim Mulholland Granby

Colorado joins 4 states in defending federal marriage law

DENVER (AP) – Colorado has joined four other states in defending a federal law that defines marriage as being a union only between one man and one woman when it comes to getting federal benefits. The Denver Post reports that Attorney General John Suthers last week signed onto a brief defending the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The law is being challenged in Massachusetts. The law also allows states to not recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. A spokesman for Suthers said he joined the case because if that provision is struck down, it would nullify the constitutional ban on gay marriage Colorado voters passed in 2006. Gay rights groups are criticizing Suthers’ decision and say there are other issues, including economic ones, he should be focusing on instead.

William Hamilton: Gay marriage, an embrace too soon?

Last week was rough on President Obama. In the West Virginia Democratic primary, President Obama’s only opponent was prison inmate Keith Judd, who got 41 percent of the vote. President Obama’s war-on-demon-coal went over so badly in coal-rich West Virginia that the White House announced the president’s thinking about coal is now “evolving.” In Wisconsin’s GOP primary, incumbent Republican Gov. Scott Walker, whom the teachers’ union is trying to recall, got 97 percent of the GOP vote. On the Democrats’‚ side, two pro-recall candidates split the vote. In Indiana, the Tea Party defeated Republican Sen. Dick Lugar for being too liberal. On the eve of a Hollywood fundraiser, polling data showed President Obama losing his grip on the “youth” vote. Miraculously, President Obama’s position on gay marriage “revolved” to support of gay marriage. In 1996, in an Illinois Senate race, President Obama favored gay marriage. But in his U.S. Senate race in 2004 and in his 2008 presidential race, President Obama opposed gay marriage. Because the “young” rarely bother to vote, switching to gay marriage might not help President Obama at the polls. Moreover, he has now made gay marriage a hot-button social issue sure to bring out traditional-marriage independents and conservatives who, previously, were luke-warm toward the pro-traditional-marriage Mitt Romney. Moreover, many blacks do not favor gay marriage and might stay home on Nov. 6, 2012. Seven of the nine major “swing” states – Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Nevada, and Wisconsin – all prohibit same-sex marriage. Only two “swing states” allow gay marriage: Iowa by a judge’s court order, New Hampshire by legislation. In all, 42 states reject gay marriage: 12 states by legislative action and 30 states by state constitution. In 1996, President Clinton (D) signed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), meaning the federal government does not recognize gay marriage as legal. In Colorado, because the Democrat leadership waited until after the Democratic Party caucuses to introduce a gay-marriage bill (wonder why?), the Democrats’ bill ran out of time; however, Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) immediately called a special session to try to force through gay marriage. While gays claim this is a “civil-rights” issue, traditional-marriage advocates point out that a simple, written contract – legal in all states – can already provide gays with the same “rights” as a marriage license. As of this writing, Colorado’s special session outcome is unknown. Bear in mind, Colorado adopted DOMA in 2000 and, in 2006, a state-wide vote rejected gay marriage 53 percent to 47 percent. For sure, Hickenlooper makes gay marriage a major election issue which, on the one hand, may ensure the defeat of any pro-gay-marriage Republican legislators and, on the other hand, could return the entire Colorado General Assembly to GOP control. Last week in South Carolina, gay marriage went down to flaming defeat. In neighboring North Carolina, where the 2012 Democratic National Convention is slated to be held, gay marriage is illegal both by statute and by state constitution. Some gay activists want the Democratic National Convention moved someplace where same-sex marriage is legal, leaving only Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, or Washington, D.C. as possible locations. President Obama’s embrace of gay marriage at the $40,000-per-plate Hollywood fundraiser raised $15 million; however, Mr. Romney shot to a seven-point lead in national polls. Moreover, traditional-values voters started pouring money into Mr. Romney’s campaign coffers. Maybe President Obama’s latest “revolution” should have waited until after Nov. 6?

Muftic: Politics often trumps logic, reason

There are some public policy positions being promoted by a variety of politicians that just do not seem logical. Often good politics trump reason, especially when it invigorates the juices of their political bases. Take the examples of the failed attempt in Congress to block the Iran nuclear deal and some freedom of religion arguments advanced by the GOP. The logical element of the Iran deal is that it will keep war from happening immediately, and maybe even in a distant future, though much can change in a decade for better or for worse. On the other hand, failure to pass the deal would have freed all other participants to drop any sanctions and they had made that clear they would do so. Clearly sanctions by one country, the U.S., would not be effective in changing Iran's behavior any more than they were against Cuba. Sanctions by the larger international community were the only leverage against Iran. Iran could develop nuclear weapons in a few months. Past cyber attacks, assassinations of scientists, and bombing runs caused only temporary setbacks. With the deal, violations of sanctions will trigger automatic reinstatement of international sanctions and military action is still an option. There will be constant monitoring of nuclear sites capable of nuclear weapons production and supply lines, with some level of inspections lasting past the 10-year period. Opponents to the deal ginned up fear, not reason. Their argument: Iran's government had bad policies toward its people and was untrustworthy. The deal does not rely on trust or love. Inspections are regarded by the international community as the most stringent ever imposed on any country. Unable to refute that, the opponents just ignored or distorted the inspection protocols in their multi- million dollar ad campaign full of misleading statements and instead, scared the public into opposing the deal. In preparation for the 2016 elections, a fear mongering ad is running against Colorado Democratic Senate incumbent, Michael Bennet claiming he will be responsible for a nuclear holocaust caused by his vote in favor of the Iran deal. This ad, with multi-lingual countdown by children, is similar to the one Democrats used effectively against GOP presidential candidate Barry Goldwater in 1964 who had indicated a willingness to use nukes. It depicted a child counting daisy petals followed by a nuclear blast. Bennet has a reasoned case to make the Iran deal would immediately make a nuclear war less likely. Also illogical is the GOP's freedom of religion argument that same sex marriage destroys religious freedom. Same sex marriage is contrary to religious beliefs held by many who would like government to force others to uphold their views and step on others' rights. In 2014 the Supreme Court ruled same sex couples must be allowed to marry nationwide regardless if state laws permit marriage only by heterosexual couples. The ruling was particularly pertinent to officials issuing marriage licenses. A county clerk was jailed when she refused to issue licenses to same sex couples because it violated her religious beliefs. She has always been free to resign or run for another office, and she is still protected by the Constitution to continue her crusade elsewhere. Noticed: The ruling did not prevent heterosexual marriage. For more, visit, especially the July 19, 2015 posting "The GOP comes out swinging against the Iran deal …

Colorado Senate OKs civil unions during voice vote

DENVER – Colorado Democrats moved forward Wednesday with a proposal to allow civil unions for same-sex couples after a debate that included emotional pleas from Senate lawmakers to grant equal rights to everyone regardless of sexual orientation. “I do think there is an arc of history on today’s debate,” said Democratic Sen. Michael Johnston, equating the vote on civil unions to women’s suffrage, the abolishment of slavery and the reversal on bans on interracial marriages. “Those are all moments in history that many of us are probably not proud of now to look back at.” Most Republicans opposed the proposal in the Senate, saying the bill would go against the wishes of Colorado voters who banned gay marriage in 2006 and also opposed a referendum on domestic partnerships. The bill passed on a voice vote in the Senate, where Democrats have control and unanimously support the measure. It still faces another vote in that chamber before going to the Republican-controlled house, where Democrats concede the proposal’s passage is uncertain. With civil unions, Colorado same-sex couples would be granted several rights similar to married couples, including the ability to be involved in their partner’s medical decisions. The bill would also enhance inheritance rights and make it easier for couples to list each other as dependents on health insurance. Denver Sen. Pat Steadman, a gay lawmaker who is sponsoring Senate Bill 172, began the debate by telling lawmakers that he would be among those who would benefit from this legislation. Steadman’s voice wavered with emotion as he described how his father suffered as stroke while on a business trip in New Jersey that left him unable to speak and grant consent about who could visit him at the hospital. Steadman said his father’s wife was able to stay by his side and speak for him to allow others to visit him. “I think back to my father’s hospital room and I think, ‘What if it were me? What if that happened to me and I was not able to consent to visitors, to medical care, who would make those decisions for me?’” he said. Republican Rep. Kevin Lundberg of Larimer County was the only one from his party to voice opposition to the bill during the debate, preceding his comments by saying he was “under no illusion” about what the proposal’s outcome would be in the Senate because of the Democrats’ majority. He said he understands same-sex couples would still not be able to marry, but still he said the proposal would undermine the institution of marriage. “This is a dramatic, radical change to marriage in the state of Colorado, and I would urge a no vote,” he said. The Senate Republican leadership issued a statement when the bill was introduced last month, saying they believed Coloradoans want them to focus on jobs, not whether the state should have civil unions. Seven states currently allow civil unions, with Hawaii and Illinois being the latest to pass legislation. CitizenLink, an advocacy group for the Colorado-based Focus on the Family, opposes the bill, arguing that many of the rights the legislation seeks to provide are already available to same-sex couples. Steadman said his bill would also address circumstances where children are being raised by two parents but only one is recognized as the legal guardian responsible for child support. Republican Ellen Roberts of Durango said that’s one of the reasons she supports the legislation. “I support individual liberties and I think this falls in that category,” she added.

Letter: Letter about homosexuals rife with ignorance

In regards to Wayne Lela's view on homosexuality: My husband and I laughed at the blatant ignorance displayed in his letter to the Sky-Hi. How could you possibly relate BDSM to homosexuality? An individual's right to marry does NOT place harm on anyone if they choose the same sex. Marijuana is more harmful factually speaking. The war on same sex marriage is a shame. How many DEVIANT heterosexual couples or individuals are out there? PLENTY. How many heterosexual individuals involve themselves in "deviant" behavior? LOADS. The GLBT community does not harm any one individual, couple or community. It is the old school "logic" that Wayne displays that causes people like my husband and I to laugh at such ignorance. My husband and I support marriage equality, for it harms no one. As far as I knew… God and Jesus are about love … not bias and sheer ignorance. Vanessa Rus Grand Lake

Letter: Letter about homosexuals rife with ignorance

In regards to Wayne Lela's view on homosexuality: My husband and I laughed at the blatant ignorance displayed in his letter to the Sky-Hi. How could you possibly relate BDSM to homosexuality? An individual's right to marry does NOT place harm on anyone if they choose the same sex. Marijuana is more harmful factually speaking. The war on same sex marriage is a shame. How many DEVIANT heterosexual couples or individuals are out there? PLENTY. How many heterosexual individuals involve themselves in "deviant" behavior? LOADS. The GLBT community does not harm any one individual, couple or community. It is the old school "logic" that Wayne displays that causes people like my husband and I to laugh at such ignorance. My husband and I support marriage equality, for it harms no one. As far as I knew… God and Jesus are about love … not bias and sheer ignorance. Vanessa Rus Grand Lake