A bill which would recognize gay and lesbian couples with civil unions is headed to the Colorado House after clearing the Senate on Thursday.

After two days of emotional debate, Senators approved the measure on a 23-12 vote.

The bill's chief sponsor, Democratic Senator Pat Steadman, shared his perspective on the issue as a gay man.

“Why is this important?” Steadman asked colleagues. “It's because life happens to people. People have babies. People adopt children. People have accidents. People end up in the hospital.”

“Are we not as human as you?” he asked.

Senator Nancy Spence, a Republican, reiterated her support for the measure.

“The Republican Party, the party of Lincoln, must continue to champion civil liberties,” she said.

The proposal now heads to the Republican-controlled House, where it faces an uncertain future.

A House committee considering the measure killed the bill last year after the Senate gave its approval.

This year, supporters spent months looking for a House Republican to sponsor the bill but were unsuccessful.

A poll released earlier this month found that seventy-five percent of Colorado voters support recognizing gay couples with either marriage (47%) or civil unions (28%). Only 22 percent said there should be no legal recognition whatsoever for the relationships of gay couples.