Civil-unions bill moves forward; Roberts stays lone GOP vote

DENVER – The Colorado Senate formally passed a bill allowing civil unions for same-sex couples Monday on a 21-14 vote.

As expected, Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, was the only Republican to join all 20 Democrats in supporting the bill. Two other Republican senators who voted for the bill last year are no longer in the Legislature.

The bill allows rights and responsibilities similar to marriage under state law for couples who form a civil union. But their relationships will not be recognized in most other states or by the federal government.

Senators debated the bill for three hours Friday, and Monday’s vote was the final roll call before sending the bill to the House. Unlike previous years, when opponents made long speeches against the bill before the final roll call, no one spoke up Monday.

The sponsor, Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, was happy that the vote happened without debate.

“I was ready, but I was also going to keep my powder dry,” Steadman said.

The bill now goes to the House. Sponsors had contemplated a Valentine’s Day hearing, but Steadman thinks the House will be too busy this week with gun-control bills to get to the civil-unions bill, Senate Bill 11.

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