(March 11) – The House of Representatives approved a bill today to grant legal recognition to same-sex couples.

SB13-011, sponsored in the House by Speaker Mark Ferrandino (D-Denver) and Rep. Sue Schafer (D-Wheat Ridge), creates civil unions in Colorado, providing benefits, protections and responsibilities similar to those granted to other recognized, committed couples.

The only steps remaining before civil unions become law in Colorado are a formal roll-call vote in the House and the signature of Gov. John Hickenlooper. Both outcomes are assured.

“This bill is about three simple things,” Rep. Ferrandino told the House. “It’s about love, it’s about family, and it’s about equality under the law. Senate Bill 11 is about recognizing the loving commitment that families make to each other across Colorado, regardless of their sexual orientation. And it is about putting families first.”

“Senate Bill 11 is about insuring that everyone has equality under the law,” Rep. Ferrandino said, adding that it would ensure that “all families, gay and straight alike, are provided protection under the law.”

Rep. Schafer noted that other states – Colorado will be the 18th – have approved civil unions or gay marriage. “Nothing bad has happened to the heterosexuals in those states,” she told the House. “Heterosexuality appears to be alive and well.”

The House swatted down Republican amendments to allow county clerks to deny civil unions, or child placement agents to deny adoptions, to gay or lesbian couples on personal religious grounds. Speaker Ferrandino said the amendments were dedicated to “enshrining discrimination” in a bill that’s intended to overcome discrimination.

Today’s debate rewrote a chapter in Colorado history. Civil unions were scheduled for debate on the House floor late in the 2012 session, but the Republican leadership at the time shut down the House rather than allow the bill, which had the support of a majority of representatives, to be debated.

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