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Colorado Senate moves to pass civil union bill

5:52 PM, Apr 25, 2012   |    comments
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Video: Colorado Senate moves to pass civil union bill

The rest of the dome will be entirely covered by January 2013. The entire project should take three years to complete. (Brandon Rittiman/9NEWS)

Senate Bill 2 is very similar to the civil unions bill that died in the Republican-controlled House in 2011.

The author of the bill, Sen. Pat Steadman, a Denver democrat who is gay, spoke for about 45 minutes at the beginning of Wednesday's second reading. He gave examples of same-sex couples he knows who have not been able to enjoy the freedoms that married couples do, specifically when it comes to health care.

Opponents worry civil unions will eventually lead to same-sex marriage in Colorado. In 2006, voters in rejected a bill to legalize domestic partnerships.

The bill now moves on to a third reading in the Senate that will likely happen on Thursday, and is expected to pass. When it does, it will head to a House committee.

"Senate Bill 2 is a bill whose time has come. It is a bill that I believe Colorado is ready for, and it's a bill we passed with bipartisan support last year. Colorado is ready for this bill, and people understand this bill, and if you look at the recent history on this issue, you will notice a rapid shift in public opinion," Steadman said.

After Steadman spoke, numerous senate Democrats supported him.

"I look forward to the day when we are able to achieve legal and social equality for all ... Most of us, if we're lucky, will never have to ask someone else to vote on recognizing our rights. You have those rights. I have these rights, and I'm thankful I don't have to rely on an elected body to give me these rights," Sen. Morgan Carroll (D-Aurora) said.

A few senate Republicans spoke up in opposition to the bill, including Sen. Scott Renfroe (R-Greeley).

"Our Founding Fathers were very clear about what they said about morality and religion, and where our country is today and where they wanted our country to go where it would be if we did not embrace those pillars within our country ... My question I have for Sen. Steadman is: What's left that distinguishes marriage, as marriage? What's left?" Renfroe asked.

Sen. Shawn Mitchell (R-Denver) added, "What was presented as respect for diversity of human rights becomes instead a press for conformity, an effort to stamp out different opinions to stamp out values and beliefs that other people hold deeply."

The bill died last year after it moved from the Senate to the House Judiciary Committee. That committee has the same members today, and is once again expected to handle the bill.

Six Republicans voted it down in that committee last year, and five Democrats supported it.

There are more than a dozen states now that have same-sex marriage or civil union laws.

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation with The Associated Press)

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