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Colorado: Civil unions bill to be introduced

Coalition aims to support a civil union law for same-sex couples.

New law would give gay and lesbian couples more economic security and domestic stability, according to supporters

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Advocates of same-sex civil unions in Colorado launched a major push to build public support for a bill that would give gay and lesbian partners some important legal rights in domestic, financial and healthcare matters.

The newly formed umbrella support organization, One Colorado, has put together an impressive coalition of businesses, civic groups and other organizations representing about half a million Coloradans in a strong show of diverse support for the measure. Follow the group’s efforts via Twitter and on the group’s Facebook page.

Watch this YouTube video with some footage from a press conference announcing the effort.

Democratic Sen. Pat Steadman, representing Senate District 31 (central Denver and southwest Adams County), announced in December that he would introduce the law sometime in late January. Steadman is the first openly gay man to serve in the Colorado Legislature. Rep. Mark Ferrandino has been named as a potential sponsor in the Colorado House.

In an interview with KUSA, Steadman said, “This is something that I think is overdue, something that will protect families and will make our laws a little bit more fair, and a little bit more inclusive so that everyone has the same opportunity to have economic security and stability in their family relationship.”

Six states — Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, California, Washington, and, most recently, Illinois — have laws giving comprehensive civil union rights to gay and lesbian couples, while several other states, including Colorado, provide a patchwork of protections.

At issue are rights that heterosexual couples take for granted, including the right to make medical decisions for a partner, as well as domestic financial matters, including taxes, inheritance and joint health insurance.

“Many who work in the private sector can’t get health insurance for their partners,” said Jessica Woodrum, speaking on behalf of One Colorado.

In 2006, Colorado voters made same-sex marriage illegal under a constitutional amendment and nixed a referendum that would legalized domestic partnerships for gay and lesbian couples, but recent polls show widespread support for extending civil union rights to same sex couples.

Here’s some early reaction from the local gay and lesbian community via Twitter:

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