BC-US--Colorado Civil Unions, 5th Ld-Writethru,326
Colo civil unions bill gets OK by another panel
Eds: Updates with vote. Restores previous. Will be expanded.
By IVAN MORENO
DENVER • Gay couples came one step closer Friday to having civil unions in Colorado after another Republican-led House committee approved legislation that appears to have enough support to get to the governor’s desk.
The finance committee approved the measure with a 7-6 vote after it passed the House judiciary committee late Thursday.
Rep. Don Beezley was the only Republican to support the measure on the finance panel.
The Senate has already approved the bill and it could reach Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper by Wednesday. He is firmly in support.
If passed, Colorado would join more than a dozen states that allow gay marriage or civil unions.
The legislation grants gay couples rights similar to marriage, including enhancing inherence rights, parental rights, and the ability to be involved in partner’s medical decisions.
The measure faces one more committee vote, and a full House vote, before the session ends Wednesday. But bill sponsors say they have enough support from Republicans to pass the measure within a week.
Republicans, however, control the scheduling of bills in the House because they have a 33-32 vote advantage. Republican House Speaker Frank McNulty delivered a speech from the chamber’s podium earlier Friday, cautioning lawmakers against questioning others’ motives if they don’t like what happens with legislation before the session ends.
He later said in an interview with The Associated Press that the gay unions bill will be scheduled under the rules, even though he noted that some supporters seek preferential treatment for certain bills.
McNulty said Senate Democrats took months to move the bill to the House and did it on purpose to force a decision within the final days of the legislative session.
Opponents of the Colorado bill argued that civil unions undermine traditional marriage and that voters expressed their position on the issue when they banned same-sex marriage in 2006.
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