DENVER
03/21/2013 11:45 am ET Updated May 21, 2013

Hickenlooper To Sign Civil Unions Bill Thursday, Ending A 3-Year-Long Battle

Colorado is set to make history today as the sixth state to pass civil unions.

Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper is expected to sign the civil unions bill at 3:15 p.m. Thursday at the History Colorado Center.

After a three-year fight pushing for civil unions, Senate Bill 11 won final passage earlier this month on a 39-26 House vote with two Republicans joining the Democrats.

After the bill passed, The Denver Post stirred up debate with a front page photo of Colorado's first openly-gay House Speaker Mark Ferrandino kissing his partner Greg Wertsch.

Shortly after Hickenlooper's office made the bill signing announcement, a conservative Colorado issue committee called ReferendumOrRecall.org sent out a press release threatening efforts to recall legislators if Senate Bill 11 is signed.

"We still hope and pray that Governor Hickenlooper will listen to the torrent of phone calls he has been receiving from our supporters to not sign Senate Bill 11 which would tragically make so called civil unions temporarily part of Colorado law," the statement read.

The bill marks a significant shift in a state where, just seven years ago, a constitutional amendment was passed to ban gay marriage. Colorado now joins three other states -- Illinois, Delaware, and Hawaii -- as a state that has both a gay marriage ban and a statute allowing for civil unions.

The civil unions bill will become law on May 1.

Take a first look at Colorado's civil unions license:
civil unions colorado

PHOTO GALLERIES
Colorado Civil Unions Debate