by Mike Andrew -
SGN Staff Writer
The Colorado Senate passed SB11, the Colorado Civil Union Act, on February 11. One Republican joined all the Senate Democrats to vote for the bill.
'I support this bill as a Republican who is right of center,' said Sen. Ellen Roberts. 'I believe strongly that individuals have the right to give their property to whomever they choose, and this bill encapsulates that right.'
'Civil unions will allow committed couples to share in the responsibilities and protections in Colorado law that most families take for granted,' openly Gay Sen. Pat Steadman, the measure's sponsor, said.
'Our society is stronger when we promote personal responsibility and taking care of one another, and civil unions do just that.'
REBUKES RELIGIOUS OBJECTORS
During debate on the measure, Steadman challenged opponents who raised religious objections.
'Go someplace where you can be as judgmental as you'd like,' he said. 'Go inside your church, and if you want to, set up separate water fountains in there - if you can. But don't claim your free exercise of religion requires the state of Colorado to maintain separate water fountains for her residents.'
The other prime sponsor of the bill, Lesbian Sen. Lucia Guzman, was more conciliatory.
'I am a Lesbian and in a committed relationship, but you also have the right to make your own decision,' she said. 'I am also here asking you to be a little bit more open, to be able to walk with us on this journey that has taken so long.'
The measure now goes to the state's House of Representatives, where the speaker is the bill's prime sponsor.
'There are families throughout Colorado, including my own, who are living the same as any family but lack the legal safeguards and recognition afforded to everyone else,' openly Gay Speaker Mark Ferrandino said.
'These committed couples want civil unions to uphold the values we all hold dear: commitment to others, stability, responsibility, and, most importantly, family.'
Once passed, SB11 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.
The bill passed the Democratic-controlled state Senate in 2011 and 2012, but died in the Republican-controlled House. With Democrats now in the majority in the House, the bill is expected to pass, be signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper in March, and become effective in May.
In a statement issued February 11, the LGBT rights group One Colorado looked forward to the bill's passage.
'Committed Gay and Lesbian couples in the state have been waiting for years - 10, 20, even 40 years - to have their relationships protected,' said the group's executive director, Brad Clark.
'It's well past time that these families have equal protection under the law. We applaud the bipartisan passage of civil unions in the Senate and look forward to the debate in the House.'
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