Danburg: Montrose's Davy

Debra Danburg

Like Davy Crockett clutching his musket at the Alamo, then-state representative Debra Danburg was outnumbered, isolated and intent to fight to the bitter end. Her supporters packed inside an urban fort. But in her 22-year battle to defend the gay denizens of Montrose from the state's massive army of social conservatives, Danburg actually won.

Danburg first ran for Montrose's District 137 in 1980. In her fight for expanded sexual rights, she won AIDS-prevention funding and helped pass a bill that made it easier for gays and lesbians to adopt children.

But she played an equally important role as a defender against a conservative backlash. She educated rural lawmakers about the real faces of urban gays and is credited with killing legislation that would have made homosexual conduct even more illegal than it was at the time. Her stance was vindicated in 2003, when the state's archaic sodomy law was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Despite such accomplishments -- or because of them -- conservatives stormed Danburg's stronghold. After a round of Republican-led redistricting, she was thrown into largely conservative District 134 and lost her bid for re-election in 2002 to Republican Martha Wong.

Still, Danburg's ideas haven't been defeated. Gay activists could one day yell, "Remember Debra Danburg!"

 
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