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Civil Unions Bill Needs Final House Vote Before Hitting the Governor’s Desk

KUNC File Photo

A bill to allow civil unions in Colorado could be headed to the Governor’s desk by the end of the week.

The full house held a lengthy debate on the measure Monday and is scheduled to take a final vote Tuesday. The state’s first openly gay speaker, Mark Ferrandino (D-Denver), is the main sponsor of Senate Bill 11. He says passing civil unions comes down to three simple things: love, family, and equality.

“While we are equal in many ways, our love is not equal, our love is not equal and our families are not equal,” said Ferrandino.

Democrats have tried twice before to pass civil unions. Last year the issue ground the legislature to a halt when Republican leaders in the House wouldn’t bring the bill up for a vote. During Monday’s debate Republicans offered four religious exemption amendments.

“We make exceptions for religious institutions all the time,” says Representative Lori Saine (R-Dacono). She and Kathleen Conti (R-Littleton) argued that businesses, non-profits and government agencies should not be forced to honor a civil union.

“It is not just someone’s like or dislike. We are talking about deeply held religious beliefs. Our country has protected that since the founding of this nation,” says Conti.

Democrats struck down those amendments calling them a right to discriminate. Passing civil unions has long been a top priority for Democrats and they are now a step closer to that goal. They expect the measure to pass and with GOP support.

Bente Birkeland has been reporting on state legislative issues for KUNC and Rocky Mountain Community Radio since 2006. Originally, from Minnesota, Bente likes to hike and ski in her spare time. She keeps track of state politics throughout the year but is especially busy during the annual legislative session from January through early May.
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