Colorado governor calls for passage of same-sex civil unions bill


By Nic Garcia[e]Out Front Colorado[m]

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, in his third State of the State address, called for civil union legislation to be passed this year.

“As mentioned earlier, there are quite a few mountains we ought to climb together before this session ends in May,” the Democrat said toward the end of his speech. “Some of us tried very hard, but it didn’t get done last year. This year, let’s do it. Let’s pass civil unions.”

Out lesbian lawmaker state Sen. Lucia Guzman, center right, embraces Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper after his third State of the State address. Out state Rep. Dominick Moreno, right of Guzman watches on.
Photo: Evan Semon, Out Front Colorado

The Colorado Civil Union Act, first introduced in 2011 met repeated opposition from state House Republicans who controlled the chamber in 2011 and 2012.

The legislation that would establish state recognized relationship recognition for same-sex couples was first killed by a House controlled committee in 2011 after it cleared the state Senate with bipartisan support.

Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.)

Then in 2012, the legislation gained momentum after it again was cleared with bipartisan support in the Senate and cleared three different GOP controlled House committees. In the end, the bill was killed after Republicans ran out the clock on the bill in the waning days of the General Assembly’s regular session.

Then-Speaker of the House Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, called it an impasse and said his chamber’s body didn’t have enough time to consider the bill. The bill was introduced on the first day of the regular session but was held in the Senate while sponsors state Sen. Pat Steadman and Rep. Mark Ferrandino, both Denver Democrats, shopped for a GOP House sponsor.

Less than 24 hours later, Hickenlooper told lawmakers he would call a special session to give Republicans the time they needed to consider the bill.

McNulty sent the bill to the House State Affairs committee where it was killed on a party line vote.

This year, the Colorado Civil Union Act, which was re-introduced in the Senate yesterday, is expected to pass without delay by early spring now that the Democratic Party is controlled in both chambers. According to the bill, gay and lesbian couples will be able to form unions beginning May 1.

This year Democrats gained a 37-28 advantage in the House and maintained their control in the Senate 20-15. Republicans had a one seat majority in the House 33-32 in the both 2011 and 2012.

Hickenlooper’s urge to pass civil unions came toward the end of his annual address to a joint session of the Colorado General Assembly that touched on both the past and present of his administration and recent events including a summer of devastating wildfires and the Aurora theater shootings.

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