A bill that would give gay and lesbian couples many of the benefits and responsibilities of marriage cleared a second Senate panel on Thursday.

The Senate Finance Committee approved the measure on a 5 to 4 party-line vote.

On Monday, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the measure after hearing four hours' worth of testimony. The bill now heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee before it can come up for a vote on the Senate floor.

Openly gay state Senator Pat Steadman introduced his gay-inclusive civil unions bill on Valentine's Day. Democratic Representative Mark Ferrandino will sponsor a similar bill in the House.

At Monday's hearing, Rosina Kovar, a grandmother and an “at-large-director” for the Missouri-based Eagle Forum, Phyllis Schlafly's socially conservative group, was among the 27 people who testified. She told lawmakers that she opposed the proposal because the anus is weak.

Also opposed to the measure is the Roman Catholic Church.

In a letter to Colorado Catholics, Rev. Charles J. Chaput, the Archbishop of Denver, said the bill “undermines the privileged place of marriage and the family.”

“Marriage and the family are cornerstones of any culture – Christian or not. They ensure the future through the creation of new human life. Any diminishment of the identity of marriage and the family undermines society itself.”

All 20 Democratic members of the Senate are co-sponsors to the legislation, making passage in the Democrat-controlled chamber a near certainty. Less certain are the bill's prospects in the House, where Republicans hold a single seat majority.

Colorado would become the fourth state to offer the union behind New Jersey, Illinois and Hawaii, if lawmakers approve the bill.