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Civil Unions bill dies in House committee 5-4

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Pro-civil unions rally at Colorado State Capitol. May 8, 2012.

Pro-civil unions rally at Colorado State Capitol. May 8, 2012.

DENVER – A bill to legally recognize civil unions in Colorado has been voted down by the State Veterans & Military Affairs Committee during a special session of the Colorado Legislature.

The 5-4 vote was along party lines Monday.

The bill’s defeat doesn’t come as a surprise to many. House Speaker Frank McNulty (R-Highlands Ranch) assigned the bill to the State Veterans & Military Affairs Committee Monday morning, a move that most say saw as a strategy to kill the bill early in the special session.

In a statement released by the Colorado House Democrats, the committee “performed the ‘kill committee’ role it has played throughout the year” for McNulty.

“Of course I’m disappointed,” said House Democratic Leader Mark Ferrandino, the sponsor of the civil unions bill. “I feel bad for the thousands who will have to wait awhile longer to enjoy the same rights and responsibilities that most committed Colorado couples take for granted.”

“But let me say this again: the question is when – not if — civil unions will pass. We will bring this back next year and every year until the state of Colorado grants equal rights to all couples.”

“Fair-minded Coloradans have been outraged by the abuse of the legislative process we’ve seen with this bill,” said Rep. Ferrandino (D-Denver). “They will work to assure that in the future we will have a House leadership that respects the will of the majority of our state representatives and the majority of the people of Colorado.”
The State Veterans & Military Affairs Committee will be the fourth committee to hear the civil unions bill in the House this year.

The Judiciary, Finance and Appropriations committees have all voted in favor of it after Republicans on each panel broke ranks with leadership and voted to support the bill.

McNulty, who told reporters that a majority of special sessions bills are going to the State Veterans and Military Affairs committee to expedite the process so the session can end on Wednesday, focused most of his attacks on Gov. John Hickenlooper, who issued the call for the special session last Thursday.

“This is Gov. Hickenlooper’s special session for the purpose of passing same-sex marriage,” McNulty said, again referring to the civil unions measure by calling it gay marriage. “Our side is focused on economic recovery and helping Colorado families.”

“Not all of them,” muttered Rep. Su Schaffer, D-Aurora, who was listening to McNulty address the media.

“The governor is spending our taxpayer dollars on what’s basically a campaign stunt,” McNulty concluded.

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