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Civil Union Bill Clears First Big Hurdle In State House

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DENVER (CBS4)- It was a defining moment in Colorado’s debate over civil unions. The House Judiciary Committee passed the civil union bill at about 9:35 p.m. Thursday.

That same committee killed a similar bill last year.

If passed, same-sex couples would have equal rights for state taxes, health care decisions, guardianship and parental rights.

Those on both sides of the political spectrum weighed in on the issue.

Republican supporter Mario Nicholais, a Republican, urged passage on the measure which his party has long opposed.

“In fact, we’re talking about civil rights,” said Nicholais.

He said it’s the most important issue to come before them in a decade.

“It will take courage for you, the legislators in this room today, to shine a light for those who still are in the shadows to open the doors for those locked out,” said Rep. Mark Ferridino, a Democrat representing Denver.

Not everyone agreed that the bill is a good idea.

“Civil union laws absolutely undermine the case for marriage. Make no mistake about it, a vote for this bill is a vote for same-sex marriage,” said opponent Byron Babione.

There are still a few more hurdles for the bill to clear. The measure needs to pass the Finance and Appropriations Committees before going to the full House floor.

That committee includes Republicans who will vote for the bill, but the House Majority Leader, Amy Stephens, controls when bills are heard on the floor.

With just three days left in the session, she could allow the bill to die.

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