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