Colo. civil unions expected to begin May 1 with bill introduced today

Out gay state lawmaker Jessie Ulibarri, right, will chair  the first Senate Judiciary committee on the 2013 Colorado Civil Union Act. Ulibarri shares a moment with Congressman Ed Perlmutter on opening day of the Colorado General Assembly. The bill is expected to be signed by the governor and become law May 1.

Openly gay state lawmaker Jessie Ulibarri, right, will chair the first Senate Judiciary committee on the 2013 Colorado Civil Union Act. Earlier, Ulibarri shared a moment with Congressman Ed Perlmutter on opening day of the Colorado General Assembly. The bill is expected to be signed by the governor and become law May 1. Photo by Evan Semon/Out Front.

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January 9, 2013 | 1:25 pm
(Updated: February 22, 2013 | 5:42 pm)

Colorado gay and lesbian couples should be able to legally form civil unions May 1, after a bill creating them here is expected to be signed by the governor no later than mid-March.

According to a version of the bill posted to the Colorado General Assembly website this afternoon, the legislation, sponsored by out state lawmakers Sens. Pat Steadman and Lucia Guzman and Reps. Mark Ferrandino and Sue Schafer, will take effect sooner than most other new laws that customarily begin 90 days after the assembly adjourns.

The Colorado General Assembly must adjourn this year by May 8.

Gov. John Hickenlooper has pledged to sign the bill.

This is the third year the Colorado Civil Union Act has been introduced.

Previously, GOP House leadership has blocked the bill from reaching Hickenlooper. First, the bill died at a committee hearing in 2011 after having bipartisan support in the Senate. Then, in 2012, Republicans ran out the clock on the bill after it cleared three Republican-controlled House committees. The governor called a special session to re-introduce the bill, but then-Speaker of the House Frank McNulty sent the bill to a kill committee controlled by Republicans who promised to vote against it, where where it was quickly dismissed.

This year, Democrats are in control of both chambers of the Colorado General Assembly. Coupled with Ferrandino being elected speaker of the House today, the bill will move quickly through the legislative process.

In his opening remarks after being elected House Speaker, Ferrandino urged bipartisan support on a variety of issues including civil union legislation.

“… we must acknowledge that all committed couples deserve equal protection under the law, forever end Colorado’s ‘hate state’ nickname, and, with bipartisan cooperation, pass civil unions this year,” Ferrandino said.

CORRECTION: This post has been updated to reflect when most laws take effect after the governor’s signature. Most bills become law 90 days after the Colorado General Assembly adjourns, not specifically on Aug. 1.

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