A bill that would establish civil unions for same-sex couples in the state of Colorado passed a second reading Wednesday, with a final vote expected within the next few days.
The bill, Senate Bill 172, was introduced by openly gay Senator Pat Steadman. It passed an initial voice vote on Monday and sailed through what was described as a “civil” debate on Wednesday.
Given that the bill is cosponsored by all 20 Democratic senators, and that they have a majority in the 35-seat Colorado Senate, the bill is expected to meet little resistance on its final vote.*
When the legislation moves to the House the outliook is less trouble-free, though advocates are quietly optimistic the votes are there if the bill can reach the floor.
From On Top Magazine:
Democratic Representative Mark Ferrandino will introduce the measure in the House.
Ferrandino has claimed there is Republican support for the measure in the GOP-controlled House. But whether the measure reaches the House floor remains to be seen. Supporters worry that House Speaker Frank McNulty, a Highlands Ranch Republican, will assign the bill to a hostile committee, thereby killing it.
The Colorado Statesman has quoted McNulty as saying: “When we get it, we will assign it to committee and wherever it’s assigned, it will receive a fair hearing.”
More insight from The Advocate:
Once the bill passes the Senate, it will move to the House of Representatives, where openly gay Rep. Mark Ferrandino (D-Denver) will introduce the bill. Ferrandino has said there are enough bipartisan votes to pass the bill in the House, but first it must make it out of an as-yet-undetermined committee.
Brad Clark, Executive Director for LGBT advocacy group One Colorado, is optimistic that Speaker of the House Frank McNulty will treat the bill fairly, and not send it to a kill committee, effectively ending the bill’s trajectory through the legislature.
“The speaker has committed to a fair hearing when it moves over to the House,” said Clark. “And we think issues of this great of importance to Coloradoans – 72% of Coloradans support [legislation like] this – deserve an up or down vote by the full body of the House.”
Of the bill’s chance for passage in the Republican-controlled House, Sen. Guzmán said, “It depends a great deal on which committee it’s sent to. If it’s sent to their Judiciary committee, it has a huge chance of passing. If it’s sent to State Affairs or whichever is their killing committee, it won’t even reach the floor. But there are many Republican friends that I have in the House who are very supportive.”
If the measure passes the House, it will be sent on to Governor John Hickenlooper’s desk. The governor is expected to sign the legislation.
*UPDATE: The Colorado Senate has just passed the civil unions bill 23-12 with the support of 3 GOP Senators.