Colorado lawmakers hear testimony on civil unions bill

Posted on 23 Feb 2006 at 9:52pm
By Steven K. Paulson Associated Press


Representative Tom Plant announces during a January press conference that he and Senate President Joan Fitzgerald planned to introduce a bill to legalize same-sex civil unions.The Colorado House Judiciary Committee held public hearings on the measure this week.


Similar measure under consideration would give limited rights to same-sex couples, other people who can’t marry, such as siblings

DENVER Tim Sagen says he owns his home and pays his taxes, just like his married neighbors do, but has considerably fewer rights under Colorado law because he and his partner are gay.

“We are by any standards model citizens,” he told the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, urging lawmakers to approve a proposal to recognize domestic partnerships for same-sex couples.

The committee heard from a half dozen supporters of the measure, which would allow Coloradans to decide the issue in November, but the members delayed a vote.

Representative Tom Plant, a Democrat who sponsored the measure, said the bill House Bill 1344 would not change Colorado’s marriage law, just extend certain rights to same-sex couples, such as hospital visitation, inheritance without a will and shared employer benefits.

“It extends to same-sex couples the same responsibilities and benefits that are currently afforded to people who are engaged in a marriage relationship. It shall have done nothing to change the definition of marriage in the state of Colorado as being between one man and one woman,” Plant said.

Sagen, a retired electrical engineer, told lawmakers he should have the same rights as others.

“We have the same commitment to our relationship as any opposite-sex couple. We support each other in our dreams and aspirations,” he said.

Lawmakers are considering another proposal that would automatically give some rights to same-sex couples, but only if they’re also given to other people who cannot marry but are living together, such as roommates or daughters and mothers. Gay rights advocates have called the measure from Senator Shawn Mitchell, a Republican, a ploy that doesn’t give same-sex couples anything they can’t currently get if they hire a lawyer and draw up a contract. Mitchell, who has voted against previous civil union legislation, said he opposes anything that would re-create marriage in all but name.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, February 24, 2006.

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