STATE'S RITES

Civil-Union Bill Will Soon Face A Battle In The Colorado State House

A bill giving gay couples civil-union rights is advancing toward a showdown in the Colorado state legislature.

According to CBS, the bill passed through Senate committee 5-2 yesterday, after hours of emotional testimony from gay couples pleading for the same protections and benefits that heterosexual couples enjoy.

It is expected to easily pass through the Senate. The real challenge will be finding a majority in the Republican-controlled House. Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper (right) has urged passage of a civil-union bill and has said he will sign it into law.

One of the most emotional moments during yesterday’s testimony involved a lesbian couple, CBS says:

Shawna Kempainnen and Lisa Green urged lawmakers to allow them to have a civil union, describing the medical struggles of Green, who has multiple sclerosis.

“Truthfully, I need to know that Shauna can have what she needs to care for me,” Green said. She said it’s “inhumane” that she and her partner don’t have the same legal protections as married couples.

“Every moment that I can spend with Lisa feels like poetry,” Kempainnen said, adding that it’s wrong for the government “limit how far we can go on our journey.”

And citizens weren’t the only ones creating heart-wrenching pyrotechnics: here’s a showdown between openly gay lawmaker Pat Steadman and Republican Kevin Lungberg.

“Do you not see that as being a legal ju-jitsu to simply get around the term?” Lungberg asked Democratic Sen. Pat Steadman, a gay lawmaker from Denver who is sponsoring the bill. Lundberg asked Steadman if he would be satisfied with civil unions, or whether it was the first step to overturning the state’s ban on gay marriage.

“I can tell you Sen. Lundberg that if this bill passes, I will avail myself of it,” Steadman said. “I am a member of the class of unmarried persons who are eligible for this relationship, and it is one that I would seek. Beyond that, I cannot predict. The arc of history is one that bends toward justice,” he said, triggering applause from the couple of hundred people in the room.

Colorado voters banned gay marriage in a 2006 referendum.

Let’s hope Colorado Republicans will take note of marriage equality’s momentum in states like Washington, New Jersey, and Maryland, and realize they need to take us further on the arc of justice.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons, mediacutts