Republicans kill Democratic civil unions clean-up bill

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Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, saw his effort to harmonize state and federal law related to same-sex marriage and civil unions blocked by Republicans in committee on Wednesday.

DENVER — Senate Republicans flexed their muscle Wednesday, killing off a Democrat-sponsored bill aimed at fixing a consequence of the state’s overlapping recognition of both civil unions and gay marriage, which currently requires same-sex couples who have entered into both to get divorced twice.

Senate Bill 16, which would have cut red tape for those couples entering divorce proceedings, was voted down on a 3-2 vote by the GOP-controlled State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee.

Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, the sponsor of the civil unions law passed in 2013, argued that the daylight in the law could conceivably allow same-sex couples to be entered into a civil union with one partner while being married to another.

Without the legislative fix, the conflicting laws will likely force a number of gay couples to settle issues related to divorce and spousal support in the courts.

“Fairness is the victim here,” said Steadman following the vote. “In my opinion, this was a simple clean-up bill that would have helped all couples enjoy the full legal protections they deserve, based on the status they desire.

“Like virtually everything else we’ve done on marriage equality recently, justice will eventually prevail, but it’s sad to know that a partisan decision means the courts will continue to make the law in this area rather than the peoples’ elected representatives.”

All three Republicans on the panel, known as the “kill committee” where Democrat-sponsored bills are often sent to be killed, voted no: Sens. Owen Hill of Colorado Springs, Jerry Sonnenberg of Sterling and Ray Scott of Grand Junction.

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