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By Shaun Boyd

DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado’s Republican controlled Senate voted unanimously on Friday to approve a bill aimed at helping gay couples.

“This bill solves a problem and like it or not it’s a problem created by the evolution of the law,” said state Sen. Pat Steadman (D-Denver/Adams County), the sponsor of the bill.

It addresses situations where a couple got a civil union license and then later got a marriage license after the U.S. Supreme Court decision last year.

The legislation merges the two licenses so if the couple divorces, for example, they don’t need two legal proceedings.

Some of the chamber’s most conservative members spoke in support of it, including Sen. Owen Hill (R-El Paso County).

“While we may have some disagreements on what the definition of marriage should and shouldn’t be, I think we all agree the state shouldn’t make it harder for people to live their daily lives,” Hill said.

Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R-Larimer County) agreed.

“We’ve got to find ways to work together as a people,” Lundberg said.

Sen. Ray Scott (R-Mesa County) noted “We have to put policy over politics.”

The vote comes just four years after a bitter clash over civil unions for gay couples played out on the House floor, leading to a special session.

“This bill really is a clean-up bill to address the complications of two overlapping license statuses, but it’s also an acknowledgment of the fact that this is a fabric of our society. There are these couples with these commitments and these relationships and their love is entitled to the same dignity and respect as anybody else’s” said Steadman. “And if they end up in divorce court, it shouldn’t be any bigger of a headache than for anyone else.”

The Denver Democrat has lead the fight for equal rights for gay couples for seven years at the Capitol, making it his legacy.

“To have served in the legislature at this point in history as we have really moved forward on relationship recognition and equality and equal access to legal protections for all and to have played a part in that and been able to make the laws work and make them fair for everyone, I am very proud of that and what happened today is a fitting capstone on a lot of accomplishments,” he said.

Steadman is leaving at the end of the session on May 11.

Shaun Boyd is CBS4’s political specialist. She’s a veteran reporter with more than 25 years of experience. Follow her on Twitter @cbs4shaun.

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