Passage of civil unions bill could go down to wire

4:55 PM, May 5, 2012   |    comments
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The rest of the dome will be entirely covered by January 2013. The entire project should take three years to complete. (Brandon Rittiman/9NEWS)
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  • But the bill's sponsors say there is still a lot of work to be done and they are short on time.

    On Monday, the bill appears in front of the House Appropriations Committee, where it is expected to get the Republican support needed to move it to the full House floor.

    If it passes out of committee, the full House has to hear the bill twice and that cannot happen on the same day.

    That means what is called the second reading must happen on Tuesday, so the final reading and potential vote could happen on Wednesday before the legislative session ends at midnight.

    One of the bill's sponsors, Sen. Pat Steadman (D-Denver) says he tried to write the bill so it would be beneficial to everyone.

    "This bill is broader than just applying to the gay and lesbian community, although, admittedly those are the people that are expressly excluded from protections today and the primary folks who will take advantage of this," Steadman said.

    This is the furthest the civil unions effort has made it in the Colorado legislature.

    Friday, the bill passed out of the House Finance Committee in a 7-6 vote. All the Democrats on the committee voted for it, and one Republican, Rep. Don Beezley (R-Broomfield), also gave his approval.

    The bill got over its first major hurdle on Thursday when it was passed by the House Judiciary Committee Thursday on a 6-5 vote. In that case, one Republican also joined Democrats to approve it. Rep. B.J. Nikkel (R-Loveland) voted for the bill this year. She changed her vote from last year, where the same committee defeated a similar bill.

    The House is controlled by the Republicans with a 33-32 vote advantage.

    The Senate has already approved the measure and Hickenlooper has said he would sign the bill if it passes.

    If passed, Colorado would join more than a dozen states that allow gay marriage or civil unions.

    The legislation grants gay couples rights similar to marriage, including enhancing inherence rights, parental rights, and the ability to be involved in partner's medical decisions.

    Employers would not be required to extend the same benefits to the partner of employees in civil unions that they do to spouses. Civil unions would be available to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples under the proposed law.

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

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