A Colorado House panel on Thursday approved a bill which seeks to recognize gay and lesbian couples with civil unions.

The 11-member House Judiciary Committee approved the measure with a 8-3 vote after listening to nearly 6 hours of testimony. The measure now heads to the House Finance Committee.

Testifying before the committee, Lisa Green said, “My love is not a right for you to judge.”

Other supporters who spoke after Green appeared to agree with her sentiment. One said she was tried of being treated like a “second-class citizen.”

One opponent, who appeared with his father, said allowing gay unions would lead to marriage with animals. Others said they objected to the bill on religious grounds.

The move follows passage of the bill two weeks earlier in the Colorado Senate. Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper has urged lawmakers to approve the measure.

It is the third year in a row lawmakers have considered Democratic Senator Pat Steadman's civil unions bill. Last year's bill died in the GOP-controlled House. Its prospects, however, improved dramatically when Democrats regained control of both chambers.

If the bill is approved as expected, Colorado would join 5 other states – Delaware, Illinois, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Hawaii – which offer the union. Delaware, Illinois and Rhode Island, along with Minnesota, are considering legislative proposals which would legalize gay marriage.