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Democratic majority in Colo. legislature means fast track for civil unions

Democratic majority in Colo. legislature means fast track for civil unions

They say third time’s a charm. And for Colorado’s gay and lesbian couples eager to have their relationships validated by the state, that just might be the case.

Nearly three years ago, on a chilly Valentine’s Day, on the north steps of the state Capitol here, gay Denver Democrats state Sen. Pat Steadman and Rep. Mark Ferrandino introduced the Colorado Civil Union Act — legislation that would establish legal relationship recognition for same-sex couples.

And now, in a matter of a few short months, the political roller coaster that saw nearly a dozen committee meetings and rallies, tears of joy and sorrow, and that re-wrote the political legacy of the two Republicans on opposite side of the issue, will be over.

And the final stretch to the governor’s desk will be a brisk one.

Steadman and out lesbian state Sen. Lucia Guzman (D-Denver), will introduce the bill in the Senate. Ferrandino and out lesbian state Rep. Sue Schafer (D-Wheat Ridge), will carry the bill in the House.

The 2012 election results — voters sent more than enough Democrats to represent them in the House and to maintain the party’s edge in the Senate — paved the way for the bill to become law in the first three months of the new year.

Republicans had previously controlled the House with a one-seat advantage, 33-32. Despite an onslaught of courting by gay rights groups, and even some in their own party, GOP leadership blocked the bill in both 2011 and 2012.

Rendered to the minority party by nine seats, the Republican caucus will be powerless to block the bill.

“I’m looking forward to sending the bill to the Governor,” Ferrandino said.

Colorado’s Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, will sign the bill after it’s passed by both chambers. In his 2012 state of the state address, he called for the bills passage. And, after Republicans blocked a full vote of the House in the last days of the regular session, killing 30 other bills at the same time, Hickenlooper called a special session to allow the GOP the time they said they needed to debate the bill.

Editor’s Note: A wide-ranging interview with Rep. Mark Ferrandino, who will become the first openly gay man to be Colorado’s Speaker of the House in 2013, will be published at and LGBTQ Nation on Dec. 7.

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