01/23/2013 12:29 pm ET Updated Mar 25, 2013

Colorado Civil Unions First Vote Expected In Senate Committee Wednesday

The Colorado Senate is set to give its first approval to a civil unions bill, which is expected to clear both chambers fairly quickly before landing on the governor's desk to be signed.

A Senate committee will hear testimony on the bill Wednesday. 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.

When it finally reaches Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper's desk, it's likely be signed into law. For the second time this year, Hickenlooper mentioned civil unions in his State of the State address.

"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.

The bill has some Republican support, 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.



Colorado Civil Unions