DENVER
01/24/2013 10:07 am ET | Updated Jan 24, 2013

Colorado Civil Unions Bill Passes Senate Committee As Expected; Bill Likely To Become Law

A civil unions bill that would allow gay couples in Colorado similar rights to that of married couples has gotten its first approval from Colorado lawmakers on Wednesday.

A Senate committee voted 3-2 to pass the bill, with only Republicans opposing. Senate Bill 11 now heads to the Appropriations Committee, one of many steps through the Democratic-controlled legislature, before it reaches Gov. John Hickenlooper's desk.

When it finally reaches the governor's desk, it's likely to be signed into law. "Civil unions is about justice and economic prosperity," Hickenlooper posted on his Facebook page yesterday. "We've said before, saying again: Pass this bill!"

Earlier this month during his State of the State address Hickenlooper voiced similar enthusiasm for the bill. "This year, let's do it. Let's pass civil unions!" Hickenlooper said.

Last year the governor even called a special session to try and pass the bill when the clock ran out, but the bill ended up dying on a party line vote for the second year in a row.

Democrats have introduced the bill in the state Legislature for the past two years, but this year they have the majority in both chambers and Mark Ferrandino (D-Denver), a sponsor of the bill in years past, became Colorado's first openly gay speaker of the House.

The bill has some Republican support, but Democrats are overwhelmingly supportive of getting it passed this session, though another battle may loom ahead because Colorado's Constitution still bans same-sex marriage.

Republican State Senator Kevin Lundberg, who stands in opposition of the bill, told 9News:

The principles of marriage and the family are so much bigger than Colorado's laws that we are no more capable of actually redefining this timeless institution than we are of changing the laws of gravity.

Colorado may take another look at their Constitution however if the U.S. Supreme Court -- which is looking at California's constitutional same-sex marriage ban this March -- finds Proposition 8 unconstitutional.

During the last legislative session, House Speaker Frank McNulty (R-Highlands Ranch) assigned the civil unions bill to the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee during a Governor Hickenlooper-ordered special session where the bill died for the second time on a party line vote.

According to a poll by Public Policy Polling in August, 57 percent of Coloradans support a bill establishing civil unions with 37 percent opposed.

Colorado would become the sixth state to support civil unions. Currently, nine states and the District of Columbia give marriage licenses to same-sex couples and three states have pending same-sex marriage laws.

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