Republicans reject Colorado civil unions bill

DENVER — A GOP-led committee rejected civil unions for Colorado same-sex couples Thursday after an eight-hour hearing that included passionate pleas from gay couples who said they were being denied equal rights and religious leaders who argued the proposal would diminish the sanctity of marriage.

The proposal had breezed through the Democratic-controlled Senate last week, and came close to getting of the House committee where it failed on a 6-5 party-line vote, but not before two Republicans visibly hesitated before saying no.

Rep. Mark Ferrandino, a gay Democrat who sponsored the proposal in the House, said after the vote that he believed some of the Republicans supported the bill “in their hearts.”

“But unfortunately, they weren’t willing to take the political risks,” he said.

Sen. Pat Steadman, the sponsor of the bill in the Senate, was harsher in his criticism.

“They’re more interested in catering to extremists in their base out of fear of the word ‘primary’ than they are in public policy or voters and the people want and deserve,” he said, adding that he will bring the proposal forward again.

Under Senate Bill 172, couples in civil unions would have rights similar to married couples, including the ability to be involved in their partner’s medical decisions. The bill would enhance inheritance rights and make it easier for couples to list each other as dependents on health insurance. The bill would also address circumstances in which children are being raised by two parents but only one is recognized as the legal guardian responsible for child support.



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