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GOP House committee kills Colorado Civil Union Act — again

By Nic Garcia
Out Front Colorado
Monday, May 14, 2012
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Updated: 9:00 p.m. MT

DENVER — Despite being given a second chance by Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Republican state House committee on Monday evening killed the Colorado Civil Union Act on a party-line vote, 5-4.

The decision came after about four hours of testimony.

Supporters of the bill had hoped Rep. Don Coram, R-Montrose, who is the father of a gay son, would be a swing vote. However, he told a crowd of more than 300 the bill was too similar to same-sex marriage and a “yes” vote would invalidate a 2006 voter approved amendment defining marriage between a man and a woman.

Coram also said he thought the bill was being used for political gain.

Rep. Mark Ferrandino at a civil unions rally held on the steps of the Denver City and County
building Thursday. (Out Front Colorado photo by Sean Mullins.)

“I’m concerned that the gay community is being used as a political pawn,” he said. “(Civil unions) only came up when we had a split house. And I think that’s wrong because these are great people.”

Supporters argued they need rights to protect their families.

“Our relationship is the centerpiece, and backbone of our family,” said Denver gay man Jason Cobb. “Our son is supposed to see parents as committed to each other as they are to him.”

Former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb, a Democrat, also weighed in on the issue.

“Civil unions is important to our entire community, state and country,” he said. “… I hope this comes to pass on your watch and you don’t defer it to someone else.”

Opponents argued that the bill would redefine marriage in Colorado and that it goes against the will of Coloradans.

“This is not simply a religious issue,” James Flynn of the Denver Archdiocese said. “This is an issue of common sense. It is also a matter of long tradition. Marriage is the fundamental cornerstone of humanity.

“We as state, if we want our kids to do as best they can, we need to make sure they grow up with their own father and mother,” Glenn Stanton of Focus on the Family.

Hickenlooper, a Democrat, called for the special session to discuss this bill and six others — giving House Republicans the time they claimed they need to debate the bill.

The bill, sponsored by Minority Leader Mark Ferrandino and Sen. Pat Steadman, would have expand legal relationship recognition for same-sex couples here. Both Ferrandino and Steadman are gay Denver Democrats.

The legislation was re-introduced this morning and assigned to the State Affairs Committee.

Supporters of the bill were fearful heading into the hearing. There was no confirmed “yes” vote.

The bill was originally introduced on the first day of the legislature’s regular session, Jan. 11. About a month later, it cleared two Senate committees.

Steadman then held the bill for two more months while he and Ferrandino courted House Republicans to sponsor the bill. They hoped a GOP sponsor would ensure passage to the full floor of the House.

Republicans enjoy a one-vote advantage in the House, 33-32.

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