The Colorado Senate on Friday gave its initial nod to a civil unions bill.

Democratic Senator Pat Steadman's bill seeks to recognize gay and lesbian couples with civil unions. Marriage is not an option in Colorado because voters in 2006 approved a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to heterosexual couples.

After roughly 2 hours of debate – during which Republicans attempted to introduced numerous amendments – the Senate approved the measure with a voice vote. A final vote is expected on Monday.

Only one Republican, Senator Ellen Roberts, joined all Democrats in voting for the bill.

Senator Linda Newell, a Democrat, told colleagues that her vote was for her gay brother.

“I do believe this is a civil rights issue and we are on the right side of history today,” she said. “This vote is for my brother Bill and my friend Dave.”

Last year, the Senate approved a similar bill, only to have it die in the GOP-controlled House.

However, after two failed attempts in the House, passage appears to be a foregone conclusion now that Democrats control both chambers.

Christian conservative groups which oppose the measure, such as the Alliance Defending Freedom and CitizenLink, the political arm of Focus on the Family, have previously said that the measure threatens religious freedom.

If the bill is approved, Colorado would join 5 other states – Delaware, Illinois, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Hawaii – which offer the union. However, all 5 of those states, along with Minnesota, are expected to consider legalizing gay marriage this year.