A number of prominent Denver leaders and organizations officially have endorsed Why Marriage Matters Colorado, an initiative launched this month to secure the ability to marry for the state's gay and lesbian couples.

The list includes former speaker of the state House of Representatives Terrance Carroll; current state House Speaker Pro Tempore Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora; Denver City Councilman Paul D. López; Denver Public Schools board member Rosemary Rodriguez ; and former state Sen. Joyce Foster, D-Denver.

Endorsers also include Amanda Gonzalez, executive director of the Colorado Latino Forum; Scott L. Levin, Mountain States regional director of the Anti-Defamation League; Rabbi Steven Foster ; and community leader Moses Brewer.

Legislators last year approved civil unions for gay and lesbian couples, but a constitutional amendment passed in 2006 bans marriage for those couples.

"Here in Colorado, we continue to fight for full equality for all people," said Carroll said in a statement released by One Colorado, the advocacy group behind the initiative.

Fields added, "If a committed couple here in Colorado wants to build a family through marriage, we should not judge them or stand in their way.

"That's why I am proud to join the growing majority of Coloradans - and the majority of African-Americans nationwide - who support marriage for all of our families."

Rodriguez said she has met with many same-sex parents through her work in the school system.

"Parents have expressed the need to protect their children," she said. "And without marriage, they do not have access to these protections. It is my duty as a community leader to advocate for these families."

Joey Bunch: 303-954-1174, jbunch@denverpost.com or twitter.com/joeybunch