Colorado Democrats will re-introduce a civil unions bill for gay and lesbian couples when lawmakers reconvene in January.

State Senator Pat Steadman told the Denver Post that he will introduce the measure on opening day, January 9.

Steadman has pushed for such recognition during the last two legislative sessions. But Republicans who controlled the House blocked the proposal from reaching the House floor.

Democrats regained control of the House on November 6 and have elected Mark Ferrandino, an openly gay man, as speaker.

Steadman, who is also gay, said passage was a foregone conclusion, but added that for him the victory would be bittersweet following the recent death of his partner of 12 years, Dave Misner, who battled pancreatic cancer.

“It's going to be very sad for me,” Steadman said, “and sort of anticlimactic.”

Colorado lawmakers cannot legalize marriage for gay and lesbian couples because voters in 2006 approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a heterosexual union.

Steadman, however, said civil unions, which he described as “lesser” than marriage, are worth fighting for.