Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, on Thursday will sign a bill into law legalizing civil unions.

Hickenlooper will sign Senate Bill 11, which creates civil unions for gay and lesbian couples, at the Colorado History Museum at 3PM.

The measure cleared the House last week on its third attempt. Republican House leaders last year refused to allow the bill to come up for a vote.

The drama of the previous two sessions was in sharp contrast to the ease with which the bill sailed through the General Assembly this year now that Democrats have regained control.

The measure came under heavy criticism from religiously-affiliated adoption agencies after its sponsors dropped exemptions to religious institutions wishing to withhold adoptions based on sexual orientation.

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver expressed “disappointment” at the bill's passage, saying that if signed into law, civil unions “may threaten the policies which guide us in the vital work to find families for Colorado's children in need.”

Republicans have also claimed that the measure could face legal challenges.

Representative Lori Saine, a Republican from Dacono, was quoted by The Denver Post as saying that the bill will get a second debate in a court of law.

“We won't get to debate this again here, but we will debate this in a court of law,” Saine said, a reference to the state's constitutional amendment defining marriage as a heterosexual union.

Colorado joins Hawaii, New Jersey, Illinois, Rhode Island and Delaware in legalizing civil unions.