Denver Democrat to introduce bill to grant civil unions to gays

One of the Colorado Legislature’s openly gay lawmakers plans to try again to get a civil unions law into the state’s law books.

Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, said he will introduce a bill when the Legislature convenes in January similar to one that failed during this year’s session, to allow gay and lesbian couples to enter into civil unions to give them the same rights as married couples.

But Steadman plans to take a different tack this time around.

He plans to introduce it into the Senate in early January, when the session begins, but not try to push it through the Legislature too fast.

At the same time, he’s not designating a House sponsor in the hopes that a Republican will come forward to take on that role. While the Democrats control the Senate, the GOP has a one-vote majority in the House.

“There has been some talks with folks about having a Republican on the bill, but I haven’t found a brave soul to say yes as of this date,” Steadman said. “I think by introducing it without a House sponsor, I’m sort of offering it as an open invitation for somebody to step up and take a lead on it.”

Legislative rules require a bill to have at least one sponsor in each of the two chambers.

House Minority Leader Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, said there are several House Republicans who have said they support the idea, but none quite ready to go so far as to sponsor it. Ferrandino, who also is openly gay, was the House sponsor on this year’s bill, and said he would sponsor it again if no GOP legislator steps forward.

Ferrandino and Steadman said that may not happen because 2012 is an election year, and such partisan issues usually don’t fare well. Still, the two lawmakers said several Republicans are term-limited next year, and that could help.

Lawmakers no longer worried about re-election are more free to set aside politics and vote their conscience, they said.


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