DENVER — For supporters of a bill to legalize same-sex civil unions, the celebration following Thursday night’s approval by the House Judiciary Committee was short-lived.
Friday was a roller-coaster that began with anxiety that Republicans were stalling and ended with evidence that they’re not, as the bill, after some legislative maneuvering, arrived in and promptly passed out of its second GOP-controlled committee in 24 hours.
On the yes vote of Rep. Don Beezley, R-Broomfield, Senate Bill 2 passed out of the House Finance Committee on a vote of 7-6.
“It really does come down to basic equity and fairness for human beings,” Beezley said after the hearing. “I think if the worst thing that happens in our society is that we have more people committed to long-term, meaningful, loving relationships, I think that’s a good thing.”
It’s likely the House Appropriations Committee will hear the bill on Monday.
Rep. Cheri Gerou, R-Evergreen, is a possible yes vote on that panel who could enable the bill to arrive on the House floor, where it’s likely to pass now that at least three Republicans have signaled their support.
“This day ended a lot better than we thought it might,” Rep. Mark Ferrandino, the bill’s sponsor, told FOX31 Denver. “But we still have some big hurdles to get over.”
Ferrandino came to the Capitol Friday nervous that Rep. Bob Gardner, the Judiciary Committee’s chairman, had yet to sign off on the committee report following that panel’s hearing Thursday night — which had to happen before the bill could be heard by the House Finance Committee.
With only four days remaining in the legislative session, Ferrandino, D-Denver, and other civil unions backers, worried aloud that Gardner and House Republicans were looking to run out the clock.
“The only way it doesn’t get a fair hearing is if they play games and intentionally slow it down to kill the bill,” said Ferrandino, D-Denver.
But after telling FOX 31 that he had yet to see the committee report and that he would make no promises to sign it upon receiving it, FOX 31 Denver witnessed Gardner signing that exact report on the House floor just 10 minutes later.
House Speaker Frank McNulty’s decision to allow the committee report to be read across the desk Friday afternoon cleared the way for the House Finance Committee to hear the bill upon adjournment, possibly around 3 p.m. Friday afternoon.
Earlier in the day, McNulty told FOX 31 Denver that Democrats crying foul about Gardner’s delay in signing the report was a “manufactured controversy.”
“The Senate sat on it for 108 days,” McNulty said. “They sat on it for 108 days, they sent it over to the House, and we have our own process to follow when we consider any legislation that’s introduced. The rules will be followed.”