Colo. civil unions bill passes biggest test yet

May 4, 2012, 3:40 AM

Associated Press

DENVER (AP) – Gay couples campaigning for civil unions in Colorado have claimed their biggest victory yet as a key Republican-led House committee advanced a bill Thursday that it had previously opposed.

The newfound support means Colorado is likely to become the latest of more than a dozen states to provide legal protections to gay couples similar to marriage.

Rep. Mark Ferrandino, the Democrats’ leader in the House and a gay lawmaker who sponsored the bill, said before the vote that he and other people just want equal rights. He noted the law books behind the Republican committee chairman overseeing the House Judiciary Committee’s hearing.

“All we’re asking is for equal access to those books that are behind you Mr. Chairman,” Ferrandino said.

The measure approved Thursday evening faces two more committee votes, but sponsors are optimistic they have enough support to get the legislation to Gov. John Hickenlooper, who is firmly behind the plan. The measure has already passed the Senate.

At one point, dozens in the audience stood up when the committee chairman asked for supporters to stand up because the first phase of testimony was ending and they wouldn’t be able to speak.

The 6-5 vote came after hours of emotional testimony from gay couples who said they’re vulnerable because they don’t have the rights afforded to married people. One Republican joined Democrats in approving the bill.

The plan died in the same committee last year on a 6-5 party line vote.

Opponents argue civil unions undermine traditional marriage and that voters expressed their position on the issue when they banned same-sex marriage in 2006.

Byron Babione, with the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative group that stands for religious freedom, echoed the concerns of some of the opponents when he said civil unions are “marriage without the name.”

However, supporters say the bill still does not allow marriage between gay couples.

Opponents also said gay couples already have some of the legal protections they’re seeking under a state-designated beneficiary law.

But supporters said there are still important rights same-sex couples lack. The civil unions legislation gives gay couples more authority in medical and end-of-life decisions and enhances parental rights, among other things.

“I ask you to vote tonight in favor of all of your constituents,” said Jason Cobb, a Denver attorney who is raising a son with another man. “We’re more than a political issue. We’re your family, we’re your neighbors, your sons, your daughters, your grandchildren. I ask you to vote for family tonight.”

Before the hearing, scores of people in civil unions rallied across from the state Capitol on the steps of Denver’s City and County building. They held multicolored signs that read “Love is love” and “Equality for All,” and carried a rainbow-colored flag.

Fran Simon, 43, showed the crowd a stack of paperwork that she and her partner, 42-year-old Anna Simon, have amassed to prove the legitimacy of their relationship _ wills, powers of attorney and a birth certificate for their 4-year-old son.

“But even with this large stack of papers, we have no way of knowing if in our time of need, will it be sufficient?” said Fran Simon. “Even if it’s sufficient, will we have the right paper at the right time?”

___

Find Ivan Moreno on Twitter at
http://twitter.com/IvanJourno.

___

Online:

Senate Bill 2:
http://goo.gl/GR9y4

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

United States News

Rep. Juan Ciscomani (R-AZ) delivers remarks in the House Chamber during the third day of elections ...
Kevin Stone

Rep. Juan Ciscomani of Arizona to give GOP Spanish rebuttal to Biden speech

Freshman U.S. Rep. Juan Ciscomani of Arizona will deliver the Republican Spanish rebuttal to President Joe Biden's State of the Union address Tuesday.
13 hours ago
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)...
Associated Press

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s split from Democrats shows party discord in Arizona

The Democrats' winning formula is in jeopardy ahead of the 2024 election after Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s divorce from the party.
13 hours ago
(AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)...
Associated Press

US officials offer Congress briefing on Biden, Trump papers

The Biden administration has offered to brief congressional leaders on its investigation into the classified documents.
2 days ago
FILE - Mega Millions lottery tickets and a wager slip are displayed, Friday, Jan. 6, 2023, in Derry...
Arizona Sports

Drawing nears for $700M Powerball prize, 10th biggest in US

Another huge lottery jackpot will be on the line Saturday for players willing to put up $2 vs. daunting odds of actually winning the prize.
3 days ago
Chinese spy balloon flies above in Charlotte NC, United States on February 04, 2023. The Pentagon a...
Associated Press

US downs suspected Chinese spy balloon off the Carolina coast

The United States on Saturday downed a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the Carolina coast after it traversed sensitive military sites.
3 days ago
A high altitude balloon floats over Billings, Mont., on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023. The huge, high-alt...
Associated Press

Chinese balloon soars across US; Blinken scraps Beijing trip

A Chinese balloon sailing across the U.S. drew severe Pentagon accusations and sent excited or alarmed Americans outside with binoculars.
4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

(Pexels Photo)...

Sports gambling can be fun for adults, but it’s a dangerous game for children

While adults may find that sports gambling is a way to enhance the experience with more than just fandom on the line, it can be a dangerous proposition if children get involved in the activity.
...
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
Colo. civil unions bill passes biggest test yet