News

DNC vice chairman candidate Palacio warns against Gorsuch confirmation

Author: Ernest Luning - February 7, 2017 - Updated: February 7, 2017

Palacio-Why-We-Gorsuch.jpg
Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio discusses the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court in a video released by Palacio's campaign for a vice chairman position on the Democratic National Committee on Feb. 1, 2017. (Photo via Twitter)
Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio discusses the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court in a video released by Palacio’s campaign for a vice chairman position on the Democratic National Committee on Feb. 1, 2017. (Photo via Twitter)

Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio says the stakes are profound but it’s also personal whether Judge Neil Gorsuch winds up on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Palacio, the first openly gay man to chair a major party in Colorado, says he’s only able to marry his partner — they’re engaged right now — because of the vote of a single justice on the high court and warns that the “ultraconservative” Gorsuch could tip the scales back.

In a brief video promoting his bid for the office of vice chairman with the Democratic National Committee, Palacio takes aim at President Donald Trump’s nomination last week of Gorsuch, a judge on the Colorado-based Federal Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“This June it will have been two years since the Supreme Court ruled by a 5-4 vote that the Constitution guarantees marriage equality,” Palacio says in the video. “Five to four. One person was the difference between me being able to marry my partner, Graham, or not; whether love is love.”

Palacio and his fiancé, Graham Kaltenbach, announced their engagement last year on July 4, just over a year after the Supreme Court effectively legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states in the Obergefell v. Hodges decision.

“I’ll never forget the feeling, and I’ll never forget the White House lighting up like a rainbow as celebrations took place around the country and we took one big step toward equality,” Palacio says in the video. “And now we’re about to take another big step. Are we going to continue to move forward as a nation, or are we going to move backwards?”

Palacio has served three two-year terms chairing the state Democrats and declined to seek a fourth term at the party’s biennial reorganization on March 11. Instead, he is one of 10 candidates running for a vice chairman spot with the DNC at the party’s winter meeting on Feb. 25 in Atlanta. (Because of DNC rules, it won’t be known until the election whether there will be one or two vice chairman spots open to male candidates.)

The video Palacio posted last week is part of a series his campaign has produced called “Why We Fight.”

Although Gorsuch hasn’t decided any cases explicitly concerned with same-sex marriage or LGBT rights, opponents fear his judicial record on other matters, including religious freedom, spells hostility toward the cause.

“Whether it’s a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions, whether it’s voting rights or whether it’s public sector unions — we can’t just sit idly by and give Donald Trump a blank check,” Palacio says in the video. “These actions and policies threaten the very fundamentals of who we are as an American people, and we have to fight back.”

Trump nominated Gorsuch to fill the vacancy on the court created when Justice Antonin Scalia died almost one year ago.

ernest@coloradostatesman.com

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.