Tue March 12, 2013

Civil Unions Passes Colorado Legislature

Civil unions will soon be a reality for gay couples in Colorado. The Colorado Legislature passed a bill Tuesday morning allowing civil unions and it's now off to the Governor for his signature.

It was a packed house in the gallery as people watched lawmakers cast their final votes. This was the last time the legislature will debate civil unions and lawmakers in both parties took note of the moment – like Pete Lee (D-Colorado Springs).

"For some in this chamber, this is the reason we’re in here, in this time and this place,” said Lee.

Bente Birkeland reports on the passage of civil unions in the Colorado legislature

This is the third year Democrats have brought up civil union legislation. Last year they had the votes, but Republican leaders blocked it from getting a final vote.

“I want people to know the Republican Party is bigger than the debate we’ve had here,” Representative Cheri Gerou (R-Evergreen). She was one of two GOP lawmakers voting in favor of the bill.

Speaker of the House Mark Ferrandino (D-Denver) is the state’s first gay speaker and the bill’s sponsor. He says it’s time to pass civil unions to offer benefits such as spousal support, hospital visitation rights, and inheritance rights.

“It’s about love, it’s about family, it’s about equality. We have our love recognized just like anyone else’s love and that are families are the same as everyone else’s families,” said Ferrandino.

Proponents of the bill also took time to note just how far the state has come. Twenty years ago Colorado earned a bad reputation in the gay community as the hate state, after voters passed a ballot initiative that excluded LGBT people from anti- discrimination laws. The U.S. Supreme Court later over turned the initiative calling it unconstitutional. 

That issue was far from most people’s minds Tuesday as lawmakers hugged and cried, saying it’s amazing what a difference a year can make.