Colorado Senate Panel Advances Civil Union Bill in 3-2 Vote

After an afternoon of hearings, Colorado's Senate Judiciary Committee advanced the Colorado Civil Union Act, KDVR reports:

ColoradoThe first vote came late Wednesday afternoon — and it came as no surprise to anyone — when the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 3-to-2 on party lines to send Senate Bill 11 on to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Bringing down the gavel on the vote was Sen. Jessie Ulibarri, D-Adams County, elected in November, who had sat on the other side of the room the past two years and testified twice about how the bill’s legal protections would help support his partner and their son.

“It’s a very different year, a very exciting year,” Ulibarri told FOX31 Denver prior to the hearing. “We have folks here who are willing to stand up for committed couples and there will be a very different result this year.”

The bill was introduced in the Senate by openly gay Senators Pat Steadman and Lucia Guzman.

The LGBT rights coalition One Colorado applauded the bill's passage:

If passed, SB-11 will provide committed gay and lesbian couples with critical legal protections and responsibilities, such as the ability to take family leave to care for a partner, to make medical and end-of-life decisions for a partner, to live together in a nursing home, and to adopt children together.
"Gay and lesbian couples share similar worries as everyone else, like making ends meet, losing their job, or being denied health insurance." said Brad Clark, Executive Director of One Colorado, the lead organization advocating for passage of the bill. "Civil unions are an important part of building the security we all long for."

Said Steadman: "Civil unions will allow committed couples to share in the responsibilities and protections in Colorado law that most families take for granted. Our society is stronger when we promote personal responsibility and taking care of one another."

Added Guzman: "Civil unions are about commitment. They’re about responsibility. And they’re about being able to take care of the one you love. Two people in a committed relationship, gay or straight, should be able to take care of and be responsible for each other. Civil unions allow them to do just that."


  1. T.J says

    We need more of this, and need to strive for more wins. Come out, be out, stand up for your convictions and fight to make progress happen!

  2. Cortiz says

    2013 WILL be the year of LGBT. I’m convinced of it. Our community has endured far too much for far too long.

  3. says

    I’m loving seeing how galvanized our gay rights organizations are in every state. Working hard, lobbying, campaigning, and with a clear cut goal in mind. I hope to see more of that in coming years, and seeing the next generation of GLBT and how engaged they seem on equality, it gives me great hope.

  4. says

    Considering it’s Colorado I suppose the best we could hope for is civil unions, but I’m not about to break out the party streamers if it happens. Civil Unions are NOT marriage, and – as history has proven – they don’t, as in DO NOT offer us equal protection and rights under the law. I don’t pay my taxes, bust my butt 40-50 hours a week, vote every election just to sit in the back of the bus. Our Black brothers and sisters didn’t settle for that separate-but-equal crap, why the hell should we?

  5. disgusted american says

    F CO., Even IF it does pass – there is NO WAY Id ever go to that Hate state Until REAL EQUALITY is there..period!

  6. KsBrian says

    Seperate but equal, I believe we tried that once and it failed too. (Brown vs. Board of Education)

  7. Jere says

    It’s so curious to as me that Colorado seems to be embracing the passe idea of civil unions when marriage equality seems to be the new standard in this country. It just seems like a waste of time because, in a year or two or five or whatever, they are just going to have to go through this same process again to upgrade to marriage. I think politicians there should have to explain to the public why the citizens of Colorado are not as good or equal as the citizens of Massachusetts or Washington or, shortly, Rhode Island or Illinois. Every single one of them should have to write an essay with that title.

  8. says

    For those worried about the “separate but equal” problem with this bill creating civil unions but not marriage, believe me, we here in Colorado are painfully aware of the problem. The trick is that the voters in Colorado amended the constitution several years ago specifically banning marriage equality for non-hetero couples. The state legislature is unable to change that, so the civil unions bill is just as much as can be done to provide some protections for couples who are legally banned from marriage. No one here believes this is enough, but even having just a few protections is better than having zero.

    As Jere mentions, an “upgrade” to marriage equality will have to take place sooner or later, but this will require either a new state constitution amendment or a court case that goes to SCOTUS that proves the anti-marriage amendment violates the US constitution.

    The good news: Our governor fully supports this bill, polls indicate that the majority of Coloradans support this bill and, even with the polls supporting the measure, it is great that my civil rights are not up for general vote this time around. The bad news: the bigots and religious nutcases are just as hateful and willing to threaten and lie just as much as always, so we get groups like “Catholic Charities” saying that they will close down their adoption programs if the bill passes (because it will not allow discrimination against non-hetero couples).

  9. says

    Thanks, Paul. That’s what I was trying to say with the part about a “court case that goes to SCOTUS that proves the anti-marriage amendment violates the US constitution” as one way of fixing the state constitution. In the meantime, we will have this new law while we wait for the state constitution to be fixed.

    I do understand the concept of NOT settling for civil unions while we wait for marriage equality, but I contend that some protections are, indeed, better than zero protections. And, of course, we are not simply settling, but using this as a stepping stone (as small and as unsatisfying as it may be).