Three Republicans joined all Democrats in supporting the measure Thursday following a second round of emotional debate. More Republicans went to the podium to speak about the bill than they did Wednesday when only one party member voiced opposition. They emphasized their concerns that civil unions would undermine marriage and go against the wishes of voters. Voters rejected a domestic partnership referendum in 2006 and also banned gay marriage the same year.
Senate Bill 172 would grant same-sex couples several rights similar to married couples, including the ability to be involved in their partner's medical decisions and it would enhance inheritance rights.
The vote was 23-12. One Colorado offers some insight:
Republican Senators Roberts, Spence, and White joined all the Senate Democrats. "Fundamentally, as a Republican, what I have to look at is: does it fit my core beliefs? I believe strongly in protecting individual’s core rights and liberties," said Republican Senator Ellen Roberts.
"If I did not come to the microphone in support of this bill today, I would be voting quietly for it but not having the courage to stand up for what’s right. My vote today is for love, respect, and commitment. My vote today is for my niece and my nephew," said Republican Senator Jean White who voted in support of the bill in honor of a niece and nephew who are gay.
SB 172 was introduced by openly gay state Senator Pat Steadman. The bill was expected to pass the Democrat-controlled Senate but its outcome is "uncertain" in the Republican-controlled House.
The bill was the same week the Colorado Democratic Party elected former Congressional aide Rick Palacio as their new president. Palacio is 36-years-old, openly gay and Latino.