In the red corner, the Mesa State College Young Republicans, who this week staged a mock wedding between a man and a fish.

They wanted to highlight their opposition to gay partnership proposals, which will be the subject of a state-wide referendum in November.

The stunt is just one of many examples of how the sleepy Rockies state of Colorado is gripped by the new concept of gay marriage.

As reported by PinkNews.co.uk, there was outrage earlier this month when Republicans picked Janet Rowland as their candidate for lieutenant-governor, after she compared gay relationships to bestiality.

Two different ballot measures will be put before Coloradans in November. Amendment 43 would change the state constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

Referendum 1 seeks to grant domestic partnership benefits to same-sex couples. Gay rights campaigners have emphasised that partnership arrangements are a secular matter, with no requirement that churches marry same sex couples.

The fish stunt was mounted in protest at an exhibition at Mesa State College, “Love Makes a Family,” which offended Christian students by implying that two parents and 2.3 children is not the only structure a family can take.

“It seems like the exhibit was trying to push the idea that marriage can be different,” said the “brains” behind the stunt, 20-year-old Alan Haggerty, told The Daily Sentinel.

His fellow students seemed unimpressed. 18-year-old Joel Prichett’s view was typical: “I think marriage is between two people who love each other – regardless of gender.”

The two amendments could potentially see Colorado satisfy the Christian right by defining marriage as exlusively between a man and a woman, while granting gay and lesbians extensive partnership rights and protection.