Colorado Civil Unions Legislation Assigned to ’Kill’ Committee

A measure allowing same-sex civil unions that prompted Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper to call a special session after Republicans killed it last week may be defeated again later today.

On the first day of the new session, Colorado Republican House Speaker Frank McNulty assigned the bill to the State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, a panel dominated by conservative members.

McNulty “sent it to state affairs, unfortunately known as his ‘kill’ committee,” said Democrat House Minority Leader Mark Ferrandino, the bill’s sponsor. “I’m going in knowing we don’t have a committed ‘yes’ vote.”

After being approved by the Democratic-controlled state Senate in April, the civil union’s bill unexpectedly passed out of three Republican-controlled House committees, yet subsequently died in the House on May 8. Hickenlooper called a special session the next day, even as President Barack Obama said for the first time that gay marriage should be legal.

McNulty said this morning that he assigned the bill to the state affairs committee to “dispense with divisive issues as quickly as possible so we can get back to the business of creating jobs.”

Hickenlooper, a Democrat, said in a brief press conference today that he wouldn’t “jump to the conclusion” that the civil unions bill will die in the committee. He added that he didn’t call the special session solely to debate civil unions.

‘Special Session’

“We needed a special session anyway, we needed to make sure that we got business bills done and at the same time we needed a debate on civil unions,” Hickenlooper said.

In an executive order calling for a special session on May 11, the governor asked the legislature to consider seven subjects including unemployment, limits on driving while under the influence of drugs, water projects and civil unions.

It’s the closest a civil unions measure, which would have permitted gay and lesbian couples to inherit one another’s property and take family leave and make medical end-of-life decisions for a partner, has come to passing in Colorado.

The state’s voters in 2006 rejected a domestic partnerships ballot initiative and amended the state constitution to declare marriage is between a man and a woman.

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