Friday, May 04, 2012

CO: Civil Unions Bill Survives On 6-5 Vote

Rep. BJ Nikkel (R), the swing vote for Colorado's civil unions
 is swamped by reporters after voting yes. Photo: Daniel Gonzalez
What a difference a year makes! Last year, the Colorado House Judiciary Committee voted 6-5 to kill a civil unions bill, this year the vote was 6-5 in favor to pass it. Like last year, the Colorado State Senate has already passed the bill 23-12 on a bipartisan basis.

The swing vote was B.J. Nikel, a Republican female legislator who is not running for re-election and who voted against the bill last year.

The Denver Post reports:
Rep. B.J. Nikkel, R-Loveland, joined with Democrats in passing Senate Bill 2 on a 6-5 vote. She had infuriated some social conservatives by refusing to commit to vote against the measure, saying she wanted to first listen to the testimony.

"I think it was the right thing to do. We're all Coloradans, right?" Nikkel said after voting "yes." "It's not something I'm passionate about, but I think we ought to move forward and bring it to a vote in the House."


Senate Bill 2 now must go to two other committees, Finance and Appropriations, before going to the full House. Supporters say they are worried about tight deadlines with the session ending Wednesday.
The reason why the committee vote was so close is that Republicans hold a slim 33-32 majority of the Colorado House, so with all Democrats voting for the bill, it still need Republican votes in order to reach Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper's desk, who has promised to sign it.

As Joe.My.God noted, part of the intense interest in Colorado's measure is that 1) it is the state which is the home (in Colorado Springs, CO) of the virulently homophobic hate group "Focus on the Family" and 2) Almost exactly twenty years ago (in November 1992) Colorado passed Amendment 2, which purported to ban "special rights" for lesbians, gays and bisexuals by eliminating protections against anti-LGB discrimination at the local, county or state level. The U.S. Supreme Court later struck down "the hate amendment" 6-3 in the 1996 landmark case Romer v. Evans.

TowleRoad has more extensive coverage of yesterday's lengthy and emotional debate over Colorado's civil unions bill.

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