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The term "drinking liberally" is taking on a new meaning across the country, and in Colorado Springs, Jeff and Amanda Courtright are helping to redefine it.

The husband-and-wife duo have founded the Colorado Springs chapter of Drinking Liberally, which is defined by the national group as "an informal, inclusive Democratic drinking club" that's hopping into bars from Orlando, Fla., to Olympia, Wash. The local incarnation is Colorado's third, with Denver and Fort Collins chapters also promoting democracy "one pint at a time."

According to the group's national Web site, drinkingliberally.org, the club was launched in a New York City dive bar in May 2003 by a handful of liberals who "felt as though the politicians, press and public were giving conservative cons a free pass." It has been cloned into more than 100 clubs nationally.

The Courtrights are a seemingly accurate representation of DL's base: politically interested progressives who don't necessarily boast strict Democratic Party positions.

Jeff Courtright canvassed local neighborhoods for John Kerry in 2004, but it wasn't until he attended Camp Wellstone, a traveling political training camp, in Denver this September that he was moved to organize the local DL. He e-mailed "left-leaning" friends, and 18 attended the first gathering on Oct. 18. The timing, it seems, was on target.

"The recent elections showed changes that El Paso County is going through. The (D-11) school board wins were huge for me. Even though I didn't campaign for them, they're very important," he says, referring to the victories of John Gudvangen, Tami Hasling and Sandra Mann.

"[Referenda] C and D losing by so little here was shocking, too," he adds.

But DL isn't all about local politics. National issues play into the discourse, as well.

The Colorado Springs chapter meets on the first and third Tuesdays of each month at 7:30 p.m. at Old Chicago, 118 N. Tejon St. For more info, e-mail ColoradoSprings@drinkingliberally.org.

by Vanessa Martinez

Photo by Collan Fitzpatrick

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