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Colorado civil unions bill wins committee approval

Measure would give same-sex and other couples the same legal and financial status as married couples

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The Colorado Senate Judiciary Committee has approved SB-172, the Colorado Civil Union Act. If passed, the bill will provide committed gay and lesbian couples with critical legal protections and responsibilities, such as the ability to inherit property, to take family leave to care for a partner, to visit a partner in the hospital, and to make medical and end-of-life decisions for a partner.

“We applaud today’s vote to ensure that all committed couples have the tools they need to provide for the ones they love,” said Brad Clark, Executive Director of One Colorado, a statewide LGBT advocacy organization. “Especially in these difficult economic times, gay and lesbian couples need the critical protections that civil unions offer to take care for their families.”

The Old Supreme Court Chambers, where today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing was held, was filled with bill supporters, several of whom offered compelling testimony.

“We are here testifying because we love Colorado. We love biking in Durango and skiing at Copper Mt. We love the neighborhood public school where we send our son.  Because of these things and more, we gladly pay our share of taxes, and give our money and time to support Colorado charities,” said Fran and Anna Simon, a committed couple living in Denver. “But despite our contributions as citizens, the current laws of this state do not treat us the same as other Colorado families.”

According to a Feb. 2011 poll by Public Policy Polling, 72 percent of Colorado voters support legal recognition of gay and lesbian couples.

“As a person of faith, I feel called to stand up beside and speak up for any group who society would single out, or push to the side, or treat unjustly,” said the Rev. Curtis Preston, pastor of Lakewood United Church of Christ. “Civil unions are about commitment and responsibility and about basic legal protections so that families of all shapes and sizes and configurations can take care of the people they love without costly and unnecessary hoops to jump through.

In addition to this faith-based support for the bill, a coalition that is advocating for civil unions includes nearly 100 organizations and represents 750,000 Coloradans. This broad base of support illustrates that civil unions are an important issue not just for gay and lesbian organizations but for communities and leaders of faith, civil rights groups, business leaders, labor organizations, women’s rights groups, and public health organizations.

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