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Colorado House committee approves civil union bill

By NIC GARCIA | Out Front Colorado
Thursday, February 28, 2013

DENVER — As expected, a House Judiciary Committee approved the Colorado Civil Union Act and set in motion a course to a full debate by the chamber after two stops, likely next week, at other committees for procedural rubber stamping. But the five hour debate was not without a last minute, tearful, surprise.

The bill, sponsored by out gay lawmakers Speaker of the House Mark Ferrandino and state Rep. Sue Schafer, would establish state recognition for same-sex couples. Both are Democrats.

Jeremy Simon, 5, was one of more than 100 people who rallied in support of the Colorado Civil Union Act before a House Judiciary Committee took testimony on the bill.
Photo: Evan Semon, Out Front Colorado

“Our nation has a long and proud history of allowing people to live in freedom,” Schafer said this afternoon introducing the bill.

“I may be Speaker of the House,” Ferrandino said. “But my family does not have equality under the law. We’re not asking for tolerance. You can have your beliefs. What I’m asking for, is that my family and that Rep. Schafer’s family and all LGBT families in Colorado be treated equally under the law.”

The bill passed with bipartisan support vote 8-3.

“Jesus asked us to love one another,” state Rep. Carole Murray, a Douglas County Republican, said. “In that spirit, I’ll be a yes vote on this bill.”

Murray said she had to trust the legal system would work out the differences between secular equality and religious freedoms.

Rep. Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs, said he believed voters should decide the issue.

“I find it odd that after 200-plus years that due process requires this,” he said implying relationship recognition for same-sex couples. “I continue to believe the people of Colorado were clear in 2006.”

Voters in 2006 constitutionally defined marriage between a man and a woman and rejected a referendum

For many witnesses, like Lisa Green and Shawna Kemppainen, a lesbian couple from Colorado Springs, testifying in front of the House Judiciary Committee has become too familiar. They’ve done it three years in a row.

“I’m done pleading,” Green said. “… My right to love is not yours to judge, and my right to equality is not yours to withhold.”

The civil union bill was first introduced by state Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, in 2011. A similar House committee killed the bill that year on a party-line vote.

In 2012, state Rep. B.J. Nikkel, R-Loveland, “did the right thing,” and voted for the bill, setting up an epic race against the clock to get the bill to the House floor, where there were enough votes to pass it, for enough time for a debate and a recorded vote.

While the bill was ushered with bipartisan support through two other Republican-controlled committees, then Speaker of the House Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, and his GOP leadership team haphazardly ran out the clock on the bill.

With Democrats now in control of both chambers after the 2012 elections, the bill is ensured passage. Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, is inclined to sign the bill.

Continue reading at OutFront Colorado

© OutFront Colorado.
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17 more reader comments:

  1. ABOUT TIME !!!

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 7:43pm
  2. Woohoo!!

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 7:45pm
  3. Yes woohoo

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 7:46pm
  4. i dont agree with civil unions but its a start

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 7:47pm
  5. Its a step forward we have civil union in uk since 2005 now on way to marriage

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 7:48pm
  6. We need to get government out of the marriage business.

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 7:51pm
  7. Sorry… Still behind the times. Nothing less than marriage will do…

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 7:53pm
  8. NO, we need to get CHURCHES out of the marriage business. They’re the ones discriminating & using their influence over our government to try to continue their bigotry.

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 8:11pm
  9. @Robert…that doesn’t make any sense. Marriage is a legal contract between two people that gives them a certain standing with their local and federal governments. Otherwise, we’d all just live together. Unless you mean it’s a religious union. Not all of us are religious. So, again, what would be the point of marriage without government?

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 8:12pm
  10. Not the same as full Equality

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 9:00pm
  11. it’s all good because we’ll get marriage equality soon. :D

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 9:21pm
  12. its a start so we should be happy about that for now

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 9:45pm
  13. Okay, so now they can put of marriage equality legislation for another legislative cycle or two?

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 9:49pm
  14. Not the same as marriage. My spouse & I were 1 of 18,000 couples married in California before Prop8 came back into play. All our marriages remained legal although it isn’t in this Republican run Texas. Profile pic is our Wedding June 21st 2008. The President needs to take Executive Action to legalize Gay marriages for all instead of Immigration.

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 10:06pm
  15. It wont be the same until all your marriage and DOMA is repealed, I just feel like, at this point in the game, civil union legislation in a swing state like Colorado is kind of a cop out.

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 10:53pm
  16. Posted on Friday, March 1, 2013 at 4:22am
  17. That will help reproduction?

    Posted on Friday, March 1, 2013 at 6:24am