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Civil unions bill clears Colorado House committee

Civil Unions

By Jacob Combs

An under-the-radar news story from yesterday evening: the Colorado House Judiciary Committee voted 8-3 to advance a civil unions bill that has already passed the state Senate.  One Republican, Carole Murray of Castle Rock, voted with the panel’s seven Democrats in favor of the bill.

Castle Rock is the county seat of Douglas County, one of Colorado’s most conservative counties, and Rep. Murray acknowledged that some my be surprised by her support for the law in light of–as she put it–a voting record “to the right of Attila the Hun.”

“There’s not a gun that I don’t love, but I believe our party is the party of independent thinkers, and I’m one of them,” she said during the hearing.  You can watch a video of Murray’s speech during yesterday’s hearing at the bottom of this post.

Senate Bill 11 will now move to the finance and appropriations committee.  If that committee approves it, a full floor vote could occur the week of March 11.

It will be interesting to watch the implications of the Obama administration’s Supreme Court brief yesterday arguing that Prop 8 is unconstitutional for states with civil unions laws like the one being considered in the Colorado legislature.

The Justice Department brief stopped short of endorsing a fundamental constitutional right to marriage equality, but while it was focused primarily on the specifics of California’s marriage and domestic partnership laws, its argument, if adopted by the high court, could lead to the institution of equal marriage rights in all states with domestic partnership or civil union provisions.  If the Colorado bill passes before the Supreme Court issues its ruling, it is possible that the Centennial state will have marriage equality by the end of the year.  (I’ll be writing more on this issue next week.)

Watch: Republican Rep. Carole Murray discusses her support of civil unions before the Colorado House Judiciary Committee.  Via the Denver Post.

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