A bill which would legalize civil
unions for gay and lesbian couples cleared a final Colorado House
panel on Tuesday but time is running out for a final House vote.
With the help of a lone Republican,
Representative Cheri Gerou, the committee's vice chair, the measure
cleared the 13-member House Appropriations Committee with a 7-6 vote.
“I have been at this place before I
knew everybody in this room,” Gerou said, a reference to her
long-time support of gay rights.
But the bill did not escape the panel
unscathed. Two religious exemptions amendments offered by Republican
Rep. Marsha Looper were approved by members, setting up a new hurdle
for the measure to overcome.
With Wednesday being the last day of
the legislative session, the bill must be debated tonight and voted
on tomorrow. Also, if those amendments cannot be stripped off in the
House, then the measure would die as the clock runs out before the
Senate could act on those changes. The measure easily cleared the
Senate late last month.
Democrats fear Republican House leaders
will simply run down the clock. Speaker Frank McNulty and House
Majority Leader Amy Stephens oppose civil unions.
At least five GOP House members have
indicated support for the measure. Republicans enjoy a 33-32
Democratic Rep. Mark Ferrandino decided
to sponsor the civil unions bill in the House after a Republican
sponsor could not be found.
If approved, Colorado would become the
sixth state to legalize civil unions for gay couples, behind
Illinois, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware and Hawaii.