Rowland, Republican running for lieutenant governor in Colorado, compared same-sex marriage to bestiality
DENVER Democrats pounced on Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez and his newly chosen running mate Janet Rowland on Tuesday for comments she made five months ago comparing same-sex marriage to bestiality.
In a March 17 broadcast of the Rocky Mountain PBS program “Colorado State of Mind,” Rowland said homosexuality is an alternative lifestyle, adding, “For some people, the alternative lifestyle is bestiality. Do we allow a man to marry a sheep?”
Democrat Bill Ritter’s campaign called the remarks “insensitive, closed-minded, derogatory and crude” and demanded an apology.
“This shows just how far to the right and out-of-touch the Beauprez-Rowland ticket really is,” Ritter campaign manager Greg Kolomitz said.
Beauprez campaign manager John Marshall said Rowland regretted the remark and has apologized.
“We all say things we don’t mean sometimes,” he said. “That’s what happened.”
He said Beauprez continues to believe Rowland is a strong candidate but added, “Let me be clear. He doesn’t agree with [the] comments and neither does she.”
Marshall said Rowland had told campaign officials about the remarks before she was chosen as Beauprez’s running mate, and they accepted her apology and statement of regret.
Rowland was campaigning Tuesday and was not available for further comment, Marshall said.
The tempest arose just one day after Beauprez announced that Rowland, a Mesa County commissioner, is his running mate in what is expected to be a tight race for the seat being given up by term-limited GOP Gov. Bill Owens. Beauprez praised Rowland’s accomplishments, integrity and “real-world experience.”
Rowland, 43, is a married mother of two children. In the broadcast, she stressed she does not hate gays.
“I have friends who are gay. I’ve worked with people who are gay. I have utmost respect for them,” she said.
She said society must differentiate between what is acceptable as marriage and what is not.
“Some people have group sex. Should we allow two men and three women to marry? Should we allow polygamy, with one man and five wives?” she said.
She returned to the bestiality comparison at the end of the broadcast.
“And I know some of you are outraged that I would compare bestiality to this,” she said. “Forty or 50 years ago, people would be outraged that we were talking about gay marriage.”
Republican political analyst Katy Atkinson of Denver said it’s difficult to measure what impact Rowland’s comments will have on the race.
Atkinson said it depends partly on whether key swing voters view Rowland’s views as extreme.
“Coloradans tend to not like or vote for anybody who is an extremist,” she said.
“If that comment is used to portray her and Bob Beauprez as extremist, that’s a problem,” Atkinson added.
Atkinson said Beauprez will fare best if he can regain the offensive in the campaign and shape the voters’ impression of him.
“Bob Beauprez’s secret weapon is Bob Beauprez,” she said. “When he speaks to voters on television or radio, he seems like their favorite uncle, like every word he says is sincere and from the heart.”
So far, she said, Ritter and his supporters have kept Beauprez on the defensive, and Rowland’s comments only contribute to that.
“The challenge he has had all along it hasn’t worked very well for him is to run the campaign on his terms, and he hasn’t been able to do that,” Atkinson said. “Now his campaign is having to react to these comments.”
Rowland was a caseworker for the Mesa County Department of Human Services, investigating allegations of abuse and neglect for 10 years. Analysts said her choice by Beauprez was intended to assuage western Colorado voters angry over his support of projects they believed would ship precious water to the Front Range.
Kolomitz and state Democratic Party Chairwoman Pat Waak compared Rowland to state Rep. Jim Welker, a Republican, who was widely criticized for forwarding e-mails that characterized black victims of Hurricane Katrina as lazy.
“Coloradans should not be surprised to see this type of mean-spirited extremism displayed by a high-profile Republican candidate,” Waak said.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, August 18, 2006.