A bill that sought to recognize gay and lesbian couples with civil unions in Colorado died in committee on Monday.

Lawmakers returned to Denver for a special session to finish work on the civil unions bill and other measures which died on the House floor last week as the legislative session came to an end.

The measure reached the House floor with the help of three Republicans on three separate House committees. On the final day left to debate the bill, Republicans filibustered civil unions and called an indefinite recess when Democrats complained.

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper called for the special session.

House Speaker Frank McNulty assigned the measure to a new committee, the State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, which is controlled by GOP lawmakers opposed to gay rights. The panel rejected the measure with a 5-4 party-line vote after hearing hours of emotional testimony.

“We need to dispense with divisive issues as quickly as possible so that we can get back to the business of the state, which is creating jobs and offering economic opportunity to all of our citizens,” McNulty is quoted as saying by The Denver Post. “It's unfortunate that Governor Hickenlooper continues to bring us down this path of socially divisive issues when we should be focused on issues that bring Coloradans together.”

Rep. Don Coram, a Republican from Montrose who sits on the committee and has a gay son, told the Post that he's “concerned that the gay community is being used as a political pawn.” Coram voted against the bill.

House Minority Leader Mark Ferrandino, the openly gay Democrat from Denver who sponsored the legislation in the House, told NBC affiliate 9News that he would carry on the fight.

“The will of the people and the role of the Democratic process has been thwarted,” Ferrandino said. “But we will continue to fight. As I've said many times, this is not a matter of if – it's a matter of when. And I will tell you that 'when' keeps getting closer and this will happen soon.”

At least five Republicans had indicated support for civil unions in the House, where Republicans enjoy a 1 seat majority. The Senate earlier approved the measure.