A Colorado Senate panel on Monday will
consider a bill that offers gay and lesbian couples many of the
benefits and responsibilities of marriage, the AP reported.
Openly gay state Senator Pat Steadman
introduced his gay-inclusive civil unions bill on Valentine's Day.
Democratic Representative Mark
Ferrandino will sponsor a similar bill in the House.
The Senate Judiciary Committee begins
debate on the measure Monday.
Steadman said he is proposing the law
because a 2006 voter-approved constitutional amendment bans gay
marriage in the state.
“The constitutional amendment was
about marriage and that's not what this bill is about,” Steadman
told NBC affiliate 9 News. “The importance of this issue is that
there are literally thousands of families in Colorado that currently
do not have the equal protection of state law that are available to
All 20 Democratic members of the Senate
are co-sponsors to the legislation, making passage in the
Democrat-controlled chamber a near certainty. Less certain are the
bill's prospects in the House, where Republicans hold a single seat
At a rally on Thursday, faith leaders
showed support for civil unions.
“This bill is not about morality.
It's not about religion. It's not about faith. It's about basic
civil rights,” said Rabbi Joseph Black from Temple Emanuel in
Denver, the Colorado Independent reported.
“For too long the loudest voice from
the religious community in regards to [the] GLBT community has been
that of condemnation and denunciation and that needs to change.
You're going to be hearing opposition to this bill from faith
communities and we just wanted you to know that's not the only voice
that's out there.”
The Roman Catholic Church is one of
those faith communities opposed to the bill.
a letter to Colorado Catholics, Rev. Charles J. Chaput, the
Archbishop of Denver, said the bill “undermines the privileged
place of marriage and the family.”
“Marriage and the family are
cornerstones of any culture – Christian or not. They ensure the
future through the creation of new human life. Any diminishment of
the identity of marriage and the family undermines society itself.”
If approved, Colorado would become the
fourth state to offer the union behind New Jersey, Illinois and