May 4, 2012
(Denver) – The House Finance Committee voted in favor of civil unions today, moving Colorado two votes and one governor’s signature away from offering broad legal recognition to same-sex couples.
The swing vote in today’s 7-6 tally in the Republican-controlled Finance Committee was Rep. Don Beezley (R-Broomfield), who joined with the six Democrats on the panel to send the bill to the House Appropriations Committee.
“With two Republicans and the united support of the Democratic caucus, I can now say with assurance that a majority of the House of Representatives supports civil unions,” said the bill’s House sponsor, House Democratic Leader Mark Ferrandino.
On Thursday, Rep. B.J. Nikkel (R-Loveland) voted with the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee to give the bill its first step forward in the House. Republicans control the chamber by the slimmest 33-32 margin.
Rep. Ferrandino (D-Denver) said he was optimistic about the bill’s chances in the Appropriations Committee, which is scheduled to meet on Monday.
“Each step forward makes me less worried that the Republican leadership will try something to kill this bill through a parliamentary delaying tactic,” Rep. Ferrandino said. “But I’m going to be watching it like a hawk.”
SB12-002 would allow all couples – gay, lesbian or straight — to enter into civil unions, which would provide benefits, protections and responsibilities similar to those granted to other recognized, committed couples in Colorado.
The bill was approved 23-12 last month by the state Senate, so the next stop after House passage would be the desk of Gov. John Hickenlooper, who in his State of the State speech in January told the legislature, “It’s time to pass civil unions.”