A bill which seeks to recognize gay and
lesbian couples in Colorado with civil unions received an initial nod
from House members on Monday.
Lawmakers debated the measure for over
four hours before taking a voice vote. A formal vote on the measure
is expected to take place Tuesday.
House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, a
Democrat, has championed civil unions in the House for the last three
legislative sessions. This year, a second openly gay Democrat, Rep.
Sue Schafer, joined Ferrandino in co-sponsoring the bill.
“I don't ask to put your
relationships up to a vote of the people,” Ferrandino lashed out at
Republicans attempting to tack on a provision to the bill calling for
a public referendum on the issue.
Denver Post reported that two Republicans, Cheri Gerou of
Evergreen and Carole Murray of Castle Rock, spoke in favor of the
“What this bill is about is personal
freedom and individual liberties,” Gerou said. “This is a good
GOP opposition was led Rep. Bob Gardner
of Colorado Springs.
In addition to advancing an amendment
which called for a referendum on the issue, Republicans pressed for
additional exemptions based on religious beliefs, including returning
exemptions for child placement agencies omitted from last year's
bill. Democrats managed to derail all attempts to amend the bill.
The Senate approved the measure last
month and Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper is a strong
supporter of civil unions.