DENVER — The Colorado State Senate on Wednesday gave its initial blessing to a bill that would establish civil unions here.
The Colorado Civil Union Act passed on second reading with bipartisan support. The Senate must debate and vote on the bill once more before it moves to the state House of Representatives — where a similar bill was killed last year by a Republican controlled committee.
The bill, sponsored by gay Denver Democrat state Sen. Pat Steadman, would grant most of all the rights and responsibilities of marriage to any two Colorado adults regardless of gender. Colorado’s constitution defines marriage between a man and a woman.
“This bill does not create a lot of new law, but opens the door to protections and benefits that already exist,” Steadman said while introducing his bill.
“We need this bill, because life happens,” he said. “People have babies, they adopt, they die, … they have to admit someone to the Alzheimer’s ward at a nursing home.”
The bill is co-sponsored in the Senate by out lesbian Sen. Lucia Guzman.
“This bill is about continuing in the vein of making our country civil and equitable for all people,” she said.
If the bill becomes law, neither the Federal Government nor any state that does not offer similar relationship recognition status would recognize a Colorado civil union contract.
“This falls far, far short (of marriage),” Steadman said. “It is lesser, separate and unequal. Yet, thousands of people in Colorado long for this.”
State Sen. Nancy Spence was the first Republican to speak in favor of the bill. She said the bill was inline with GOP values.
“This bill, this civil unions bill, is the right thing to do,” she said. “… The less intrusive government is in our personal lives, the better.”