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January 24, 2013

Colorado Civil Unions Move A Step Closer To Reality

Colorado State Capital Building Denver, Colorado

Denver, Colorado --- The Colorado Senate Judiciary Committee passed a Civil Unions bill (SB 13-011) on a party line vote 3-2 yesterday. The legislation would extend state recognition to LGBT relationships under civil law. The bill now moves to the Senate Appropriations committee for consideration.

Reporter Lynn Bartels writes in the Denver Post that passage of the bill is nearly guaranteed.

The outcome of civil unions this session is not in doubt: Democrats control the Senate, House and the governor's mansion. But that didn't stop a string of witnesses from testifying for more than four hours, urging the bill's passage or its death.
Kellie Fiedorek with the Alliance Defending Freedom said the bill "fails to provide significant safeguards for the religious liberties of all Coloradans."
Carrie Gordon Earll with CitizenLink, an arm of Focus on the Family, said the bill isn't about benefits, but about moving toward redefining marriage.
Senate Bill 11 now heads to the Appropriations Committee, one of a number of steps before the measure makes it way to the governor's desk. It is expected to be signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper in March and become law on May 1.

Colorado State Senator Jessie Ulibarri (D-21)
Bartels described the journey that gay State Senator Jessie Ulibarri (D-21) has been on over the last few years.

For two years, Jessie Ulibarri and his partner testified in favor of civil-union bills introduced in the Colorado legislature. For two years, they watched the bills die.

This year, Ulibarri has a different role and civil unions will have a different outcome.

“I’m living proof that democracy works, that if you fight really hard you can change the laws,” he said.

Ulibarri is now a Democratic state senator. He not only serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee but also will act as its chair when this year’s civil unions measure, Senate Bill 11, is heard in committee this afternoon.

Ulibarri and his partner, Louis Trujillo, in 2011 and 2012 told lawmakers about their problems with medical care although they had signed a designated beneficiary agreement and power of attorney. They worried about their two children, Israel and Silvia, in case of a catastrophic event.

Aside from Senator Ulibarri, there are 7 LGBT state legislators in the Colorado state legislature.

Colorado voters banned marriage equality in 2006 when they passed Amendment 43.



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