Republicans in Colorado's House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee voted yesterday to kill a proposed bill to legalize same-sex civil unions that was expected to pass in the larger House of Representatives.
After a Republican filibuster prevented the bill from being brought up during the regular session, which ended last Wednesday, Governor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, called for a special session aimed at forcing a House vote on civil unions.
Though the GOP currently controls the House by a single vote, Democrats were certain they had the bipartisan support necessary to pass the bill. The State Senate passed their version of the legislation last month.
One of the deciding votes in the "kill committee" belonged to Rep. Don Coram (R-Montrose), whose son is openly gay. He rejected civil unions on the basis of a 2006 ban on same-sex marriage that was approved by Coloradan voters.
"What you're asking me to do here is invalidate the vote of six years ago," Coram told the Denver Post. "I'm concerned that the gay community is being used as a political pawn. For four years we had a Democrat governor, a Democrat House and a Democrat Senate. The issue never came up. It only came up when we got a split house. I think that's wrong."
The claim was dismissed by gay legislator and House Minority Leader Mark Ferrandino (D-Denver).
"This is an issue that in 20 years or less people are going to look back and say, 'Why was this an issue?'," he told the Post. "This is going to happen. It's just a question of when it's going to happen."
Meanwhile, across the country in Rhode Island, Gov. Lincoln Chafee signed an executive order recognizing out-of-state same-sex marriages, and called on local legislators to make same-sex marriage legal in the Ocean State.
"We must continue to push for full marriage equality," he said. "Let's change that soon."