The Colorado legislature approved a bill legalizing civil unions today, making Colorado the latest state to offer legal recognition of same-sex relationships.
The legislation passed the House 39 – 26, with two Republicans joining the Democrats in support of the bill. Democrats took control of the House in the recent 2012 election. Governor John Hickenlooper has been a vocal supporter of the bill and is expected to sign the bill immediately.
The Colorado Civil Union Act comes just seven years after the state voted to constitutionally ban same-sex marriages. Colorado will be the 18th state along with Washington DC to offer comprehensive benefits to same-sex couples through either marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships. The Senate version of the bill passed last month 21 – 14.
The Senate version of the bill was sponsored by senators Pat Steadman, who is gay, and Lucia Guzman. The House version was sponsored by House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, also gay, and Representative Sue Schafer. Gay politicians have proven more electable around the country, and homosexuality has become increasingly accepted.
“The Colorado legislature has taken a definitive step forward in the march toward equality,” Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said in a statement. “The passage of civil unions in the Centennial State is further proof that full equality for committed and loving gay and lesbian couples is in sight. From now on LGBT couples in Colorado will no longer be legal strangers in the eyes of their state, but rather recognized and supported by the law.”
The Colorado Civil Unions Act will take effect May 1.