A civil unions bill passed its first vote before the full Colorado State Senate on Friday (8 February) after three hours of debate. It must next pass a formal vote on Monday (11 Monday) before it is goes on to the House where it is also expected to pass.
The bill, SB-11, provides gay and lesbian couples with such legal protections and responsibilities 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.
The Senate vote was 21-14 with all Democrats voting for passage. Republican Senator Ellen Roberts crossed party lines to also support the bill.
Openly gay State Senator Pat Steadman introduced his civil unions bill for the third time last month. The bill is co-sponsored by another openly gay senator, Lucia Guzman.
A similar bill passed through the senate last year but was blocked from reaching a vote in the then-Republican controlled House.
But the outcome is expected to be different this year now that Democrats have regained control of the House. Not only that, but openly gay member Mark Ferrandino has been elected House speaker and sponsored the bill in the House last year.
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has made clear he will sign the bill into law.