Colorado House Republicans killed a bill on May 14 that would have legalized civil unions and offered some marriage-like benefits for gay couples. The bill had already cleared the Senate and had the approval of Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, who called a special Legislative session to vote on the measure.
This was the second year the bill was heard by the Colorado Legislature. Hickenlooper said the vote was needed to address a “fundamental question of fairness and civil rights.”
The bill’s failure was expected by Democrats, who have already started to use the issue as a line in the sand to illustrate how out of touch Republicans are with the wants and desires of the general public. The GOP-controlled House assigned the bill to the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, which voted 5-4 along party lines to kill the measure.
“My family is the same as every one of yours,” said Rep. Mark Ferrandino, the gay lawmaker who co-sponsored the civil unions bill.
Republican Rep. Don Coram, who has a gay son, said civil unions are too similar to same-sex marriage, which Colorado voters banned in 2006. He accused Democrats of using the issue to only gain votes and said the issue wasn’t about human rights.
Ferrandino denied the argument and said Democrats were pursuing the issue to grant gay families, like his own, equal rights. He said he was optimistic that the bill would pass eventually, and said it was a matter of when, not if.
“I will tell you that ’when’ keeps getting closer and closer and this will happen soon,” he said.
Republicans control the House with a 33-32 advantage, but there was substantial and more than enough support for the civil unions bill to pass last week after three committees approved it.
Some Democrats tried to bring the bill up for debate, but Republicans filibustered by talking at length about other bills. The bill did not make a key deadline before the session ended, but the governor called a special session to hear the bill.