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Colorado Senate poised to give initial approval to civil unions bill Wednesday

Colorado Senate poised to give initial approval to civil unions bill Wednesday

DENVER — A proposal to allow civil unions for gay couples is set to breeze through the Democratic controlled Colorado state legislature.

Senate Democrats stand poised to give initial approval to a civil unions bill Wednesday as the plan comes before a legislative committee for the first time this session. The measure has been turned back in past years, but with Democrats controlling the state House, Senate and governor’s office it is expected to pass easily.

Debate over the proposal has been contentious and emotional the last two years. In each of those sessions civil union plans were defeated by House Republicans.

Democrats, though, are guarded about the possibility of marriage for gay couples because the state constitution bans it, and lawmakers take an oath to uphold those laws.

Regardless, opponents of civil unions in Colorado — such as Focus on the Family’s CitizenLink — say they’re concerned that same-sex marriage is the lawmakers’ ultimate goal.

“Laws like civil unions and domestic partnerships have been used in other states to challenge marriage and usher in same-sex marriage” said Carrie Gordon Earll, spokeswoman for CitizenLink.

She said with civil unions all but a certainty in Colorado, her group will be watching to see what the Supreme Court does.

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The high court is scheduled to hear arguments in March on California’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, and that decision could affect other states.

Should California’s ban be overturned, similar bans — including Colorado’s — also would likely be upended and marriage equality supporters could make a new legislative push.

More than a dozen states allow civil unions, domestic partnerships, or same-sex marriage. Vermont, New Hampshire, and Connecticut allowed civil unions before eventually legalizing same-sex marriage.

If approved, Gov. John Hickenlooper has pledged to sign the bill at once.

Associated Press contributed to this report.
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