Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper on Thursday endorsed a bill that would recognize gay and lesbian couples with civil unions during his State of the Sate address, the AP reported.

“It's time to pass civil unions,” the 59-year-old Democratic Hickenlooper told lawmakers.

“As we strive to make Colorado healthier, we believe in equal rights for all regardless of race, creed, gender or sexual orientation,” he said.

“We don't believe we should legislate what happens inside a church or place of worship, but government should treat all people equally,” Hickenlooper added in his strongest endorsement yet.

On Wednesday, Democratic Senator Pat Steadman reintroduced the civil unions bill that died last year in a Republican-controlled House committee after the Senate approved the measure. Supporters in the House are looking for a Republican co-sponsor before introducing the bill there.

A 2006 voter-approved constitutional amendment that defines marriage as a heterosexual union bars lawmakers from pursuing gay marriage.

(Related: Bishop James Conley calls Colorado civil unions bill “dangerous.”)