[JURIST] The Colorado Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] on Wednesday voted 5-2 [materials] to approve a proposed civil union bill [SB12-002 text, PDF], referring it to the Colorado Senate [official website] for a full vote. The bill gives same-sex couples the "all legal benefits, protections, and responsibilities of spouses" joined in marriage. On Wednesday, the Judiciary Committee heard testimony [JURIST report] from advocates and opponents of the bill. The bill is expected to pass in the state senate [AP report], before proceeding to the House, where House Speaker Frank McNulty (R) [official website] has voiced opposition. A similar civil union bill passed in the Colorado Senate last year [JURIST report], but was ultimately defeated in the House [Reuters report]. 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.