Lawmakers in Colorado today passed the state’s Civil Union Act, guaranteeing gay and lesbian couples all of the rights and benefits of marriage under Colorado law. The bill is now on its way to Governor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, who has promised to sign it post-haste. The law would go into effect May 1.
Sponsored by Sens. Pat Steadman and Lucia Guzman in the Senate, and Speaker Mark Ferrandino and Rep. Sue Schafer in the House of Representatives, the bill passed the senate last month with a vote of 21-14; today’s house vote tallied 39-26. Advocates at One Colorado, the statewide LGBT rights organization, worked diligently to secure its passage.
According to the Denver Post, this is the third consecutive year in which Sen. Steadman and Speaker Ferrandino, who are two the legislature’s eight gay members, have introduced the civil unions bill. Last year, the speaker of the Republican-controlled house refused to bring the legislation to a vote, crushing many LGBT advocates. Their efforts have now been vindicated.
Colorado becomes the 18th state, plus the District of Columbia, to offer benefits to same-sex couples. Nine states and Washington, D.C. have legalized same-sex marriage. Nine states (including Colorado) provide the marriage-like rights to same-sex couples to the extent that state law allows.