A Colorado bill which seeks to recognize gay and lesbian couples with civil unions on Friday advanced to the full House after clearing a third and final House panel.

The 9-4 vote in the Colorado House Appropriations Committee included an affirmative vote from Republican Rep. Cheri Gerou, a co-sponsor of the measure.

The Colorado Senate last month gave the proposed legislation an overwhelming 21-14 vote of approval. Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper has also championed the bill.

It is the third year in a row that Colorado lawmakers have considered civil unions. The bill suddenly died last year in the GOP-controlled House after passage in the Senate.

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

Colorado voters in 2006 approved a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to heterosexual unions. Marriage equality advocates would need to repeal the amendment before Colorado could join the 9 states where gay couples can legally marry.

Currently, five states offer civil unions: Delaware, Illinois, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Hawaii.