A Colorado state Senator has raised the ire of gay activists after he likened gay rights to murder.

Debating a gay rights bill that would extend health care benefits to gay spouses on Monday, Senator Scott Renfroe, a Republican from Greeley, said: “I'm not saying this [being gay] is the only sin that's out there. We have murder. We have all sorts of sin. We have adultery. And we don't make laws making those legal, and we would never think to make murder legal.”

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay and lesbian rights advocate group, called the remarks “outrageously offensive.”

“These outrageously offensive comments warrant condemnation by all fair-minded people and should be ignored by the Colorado legislature as they move forward in passing overdue protections to state workers,” Solmonese said in a statement. “Senator Renfroe shows his own intolerance, but we remain hopeful that his fair-minded colleagues will press ahead and protect hard-working Coloradoans.”

Solomonese was not alone in his thinking.  Outgoing Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) President Neil G. Giuliano said the remarks promote a hostile climate for gays and lesbians.

“It is unacceptable for public officials to promote this kind of intolerance and, in so doing, create a hostile climate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in their community,” Giuliano said in a statement.

Giuliano also called on the media to hold public officials accountable: “Sen. Renfroe's ugly, divisive assertions highlight the need for media to examine how the anti-gay attitudes of elected officials impact their diverse constituencies.”

Renfroe's comments come on the heels of actions taken by Republican leaders in Utah against state Senator Chris Buttars after he called the gay rights movement “probably the greatest threat to America.” He made his controversial comments in an interview conducted with filmmaker Reed Cowan for an upcoming documentary titled 8: The Mormon Proposition. The Salt Lake City-based ABC affiliate KTVX aired several audio clips from the documentary with Cowan's permission.

Buttars was stripped of his chairmanship of and membership in the Judicial Committee. On Monday, the same day Renfroe made his comments, Democrats asked the Republican majority for greater sanctions against Buttars.

Renfroe said he opposed extending benefits to gay and lesbian couples because of his religious convictions and quoted Bible passages about creation and against being gay during the debate, reports the Denver Post.

“Homosexuality is seen as a violation of this natural created law, and it is an offense to God,” he said.

Support for gays and lesbians in Colorado is a mixed bag. For instance, Colorado is one of the twenty states that has banned sexual orientation discrimination in employment and has openly gay representation in Congress (Jared Polis is serving his freshman term). But voters have also backed draconian measures in the past. Such as a state-wide ban on any pro-gay legislation that was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1996 and its current ban on gay unions, including marriage and domestic partnerships.

The measure (Senate Bill 88) was given an initial OK by the Senate on Tuesday with considerably less drama.  It now moves back to the House.