The Colorado Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] heard testimony [senate calendar, PDF] on Wednesday in consideration of a proposed bill [SB12-002 text, PDF] that would grant same-sex couples the right to civil unions. Same-sex couples traveled to Denver to testify [AP report] on behalf of the bill. The bill explicitly provides same-sex couples with many of the benefits held by married couples, including dependent insurance coverage and the ability to adopt a partner's child. It goes on to provide that "all legal benefits, protections, and responsibilities of spouses ... apply in like manner to parties in a civil union." A similar bill passed in the Colorado Senate last year [JURIST report], but was ultimately defeated in the House [Reuters report]. The bill received no sponsorship from the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, and House Speaker Frank McNulty has voiced opposition. The Colorado constitution defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
Issues surrounding same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] continue to occupy discussions among lawmakers and judges. On Tuesday the New Jersey Senate voted to approve a bill [JURIST report] that, if passed, would legalize same-sex marriage in the state. Washington Governor Christine Gregoire signed legislation [JURIST report] Monday legalizing same-sex marriage, making Washington the eighth jurisdiction in the US to offer marriage to same-sex couples. Earlier this month, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that Proposition 8, California's ban on same-sex marriage, is unconstitutional [JURIST report]. In January, an Iowa District Court ordered that the Iowa Department of Public Health include both names [JURIST report] of married same-sex parents on children's birth certificates.