A bill which would recognize gay and lesbian couples with civil unions cleared a second Colorado House panel on Friday.

The momentum toward a House floor vote before Tuesday – the last day of the legislative session – picked up as Rep. Don Beezley, a Republican from Broomfield, joined Democrats in the House Finance Committee to approve the measure with a 6-5 vote.

On Thursday, Rep. B.J. Nikkel stunned Republican colleagues when she reversed her “no” vote from last year, allowing the measure to break free from the Judiciary Committee where it had previously died.

The proposal still needs to clear the House Appropriations Committee before advancing to the House floor.

The Denver Post reported on Friday that Republican Rep. Cheri Gerou, the committee's vice chair, had announced her support for Senate Bill 2.

Supporters now have at least 3 Republican votes in the House. That is, provided Democrats stand united, the measure has sufficient support to clear a vote on the House floor. The Senate approved the civil unions bill last Thursday.

Governor John Hickenlooper called on lawmakers to send the bill to his desk for his signature.

“If you step back and look at the history of this country, or the history of the world, many of the great civil rights successes that have come about are built on the foundation of many, many failures,” the governor said.

“At a certain point, you just feel that the time is right. There's a level, a group, different people from different backgrounds from different parts of the state coming together and all moving towards an idea.”

If approved, Colorado would become the sixth state to legalize civil unions for gay couples, behind Illinois, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware and Hawaii.