Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper on
Thursday signed a civil unions bill into law.
Hickenlooper, a Democrat, signed Senate
Bill 11 at the Colorado History Center near the Capitol.
Hundreds looked on chanting “Equal!
Equal!” as Hickenlooper made history.
“There is no excuse that people
shouldn't have all the same rights,” Hickenlooper told the cheering
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
Gay rights advocates say passage is
telling because voters in the state have twice backed laws hostile to
gays. In 1992, voters approved of banning municipalities from
enacting anti-discrimination laws based on sexual orientation. Known
as Amendment 2, the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional four
years later. A constitutional amendment defining marriage as a
heterosexual union was approved by voters in 2006.
The civil unions law takes effect on
Colorado joins five states – Illinois,
Delaware, Hawaii, New Jersey and Rhode Island – in offering the
union. Nine states plus the District of Columbia allow gay couples