Civil union bill to be heard in committee today

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The Colorado General Assembly is considering a civil union bill that will grant gay couples the same rights and protections that married couples have.

Senate Bill 172 is being heard in committee today, and is expected to pass committee, as well as the Democrat-controlled Senate. Its fate in the House of Representatives, controlled by Republicans, is less sure. House Minority Leader Amy Stephens, a Republican from Monument, is opposed to the bill.

The bill would grant legal rights, including the ability to be involved in medical decisions affecting their partners, parental rights where a child is involved, and the ability to decide what happens if a loved one dies.

The bill would enhance inheritance rights, make it easier to list each other as dependents for health insurance and give a partner priority in being designated a guardian or personal representative.

SB 172 is sponsored by Denver Sen. Pat Steadman, who is gay.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Mark Ferrandino of Denver in the House, should it make it that far. All 20 Democrats in the Senate support the bill.