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UPDATE: According to Lynn Bartels of the Denver paper, one of GOP Sen. Shawn Mitchell’s amendments, on adoption agencies’ freedom to decline for personal or religious reasons, did indeed pass the Senate today. This would seem to correct the report below that all of his amendments were defeated. But it wasn’t enough, disappointing to proponents in both parties.
FOX 31’s Eli Stokols reports:
As it did a year ago, the state Senate Wednesday gave initial approval to a measure that would recognize civil unions between same-sex couples in Colorado.
The legislation, which is now one vote away from final passage in the Senate, faces dimmer prospects in the GOP-controlled House, which killed the same proposal a year ago…
[Sponsor Sen. Pat] Steadman and the bill’s backers also decided against allowing a series of amendments from Sen. Shawn Mitchell, R-Broomfield, that could have secured an important symbolic vote from one of the chamber’s most ardent conservatives that could have given House Republicans cover for allowing the bill to clear committee and make it to the floor.
“This issue has weighed on many of our minds and become increasingly difficult for me,” said Mitchell, who said his concerns about family values being threatened by civil unions have diminished but, after his amendments were voted down, decided to oppose the bill.
We’ve got the full press release from One Colorado after the jump. Says Director Brad Clark, “Today’s bipartian vote in the Senate affirms the dignity of all loving families in the state. We look forward to a fair hearing in the House. Issues with overwhelming public support like civil unions deserve an up-or-down vote by all of our Representatives.”
A poll follows–will they get one?
Coalition of 140 Organizations Applauds Senate Vote,
Calls for a Fair Hearing and Up-or-Down Vote in the House
DENVER – Today, the Colorado State Senate approved SB-2, the Colorado Civil Union Act, on its second reading. The bill passed with bipartisan support and moves on to third reading and final passage.
“Civil unions are about commitment. They’re about responsibility. And they’re about being able to take care of the one you love. Today’s bipartian vote in the Senate affirms the dignity of all loving families in the state,” said Brad Clark, Executive Director of One Colorado, a statewide advocacy organization. “We look forward to a fair hearing in the House. Issues with overwhelming public support like civil unions deserve an up-or-down vote by all of our Representatives.”
If signed into law, the bill will provide committed gay and lesbian couples with critical legal protections and responsibilities, such as the ability to inherit property, to take family leave to care for a partner, to visit a partner in the hospital, and to make medical and end-of-life decisions for a partner.
“Civil unions will allow committed couples to share in the responsibilities and protections in Colorado law that most families take for granted. Our society is stronger when we promote personal responsibility and taking care of one another, and civil unions do just that,” said Senator Pat Steadman, sponsor of the bill.
An April 2012 Public Policy Polling poll showed that support for civil unions is high, reaching to 62% of Coloradans, 82% of Democrats, and 75% of Independents. Even a strong majority of Republicans-55% in fact-support either civil unions or marriage for same-sex couples.
“Lesbian and gay families are like all families, talking over dinner about mowing the lawn and worrying about making ends meet,” said Representative Mark Ferrandino. “These committed couples want civil unions to uphold the values we all hold dear: commitment to others, stability, responsibility, and, most importantly, family.”
The coalition that is advocating for civil unions includes 200 faith leaders and 140 organizations representing more than 1.2 million Coloradans. This broad base of support illustrates that civil unions are an important issue not just for gay and lesbian organizations but also for communities and leaders of faith, civil rights groups, business leaders, labor organizations, women’s rights groups, and public health organizations.