Colorado Senate lawmakers advanced on Tuesday a bill to legalize civil unions in the state.
The bill, Senate Bill 2, received a 5-4 party line vote in the Senate Appropriations committee, all Democrats on the panel voting in favor and all Republicans voting against. Prospects for the bill appear good in the Senate but a Republican majority looms in the House.
With Democrats holding a 20-15 edge in the chamber, the bill is assured of passing and heading onto the GOP-controlled House, where the same proposal died last year in a committee hearing before ever reaching the House floor.
With at least a few Republican House members indicating support for the bill, House Speaker Frank McNulty’s only real chance to kill the legislation will come in committee; if the legislation reaches the House floor, it’ll be on its way to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s desk.
“Civil unions will allow all committed couples to share in the responsibilities and protections that most families take for granted. Our society is stronger when we promote personal responsibility and taking care of one another, and civil unions do just that.
“We applaud the members of the Senate Appropriations Committee who voted to affirm that all families are worthy of dignity and respect. We look forward to bipartisan passage on the floor of the Senate.
“In the coming days and weeks, we’re committed to working to ensure a fair hearing in the Colorado House of Representatives. Issues of significant importance with overwhelming public support like civil unions deserve a full and fair hearing with an up-or-down vote by the entire House.”
One Colorado leads a coalition of 135 organizations and 200 faith leaders in support of civil unions. Together, the coalition represents more than 1 million Coloradans. This broad base of support illustrates that civil unions are an important issue not just for gay and lesbian organizations but for communities and leaders of faith, civil rights groups, business leaders, labor organizations, women’s rights groups, and public health organizations.
A number of Republicans outside of the House have said they support the bill, but few Republican lawmakers have been willing to even consider supporting the legislation when it comes up for a vote and none have wanted to be co-sponsors.
A poll released last week found 75% of Colorado voters support recognizing gay couples with marriage (47%) or civil unions (28%). Only 22% said there should be no legal recognition for same-sex relationships.
Colorado Senator Jean White (R) Supports Civil Unions for her Gay Relatives (VIDEO)
Colorado Civil Unions Bill Passes Senate Reading
Colorado Senate Committee Advances Civil Unions Bill