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A GOP-controlled state legislative panel in Colorado killed a bill Monday that would have given gay and lesbian couples the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts. Had the bill to approve same-sex civil unions made it to the state House floor, it was expected to pass with the support of Democrats and a handful of Republicans.
The Denver Post reports that Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper had called a special legislative session to debate the bill after the regular legislative session ended last week with no progress on the measure. But GOP leaders funneled the proposal to the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, which is known as a "kill committee" because its members are in safe seats and are unlikely to face political consequences for preventing a bill from reaching the floor. The panel lived up to its billing, voting to kill it 5-4 along party lines.
The New York Times points out that one Republican on the panel, Rep. Don Coram, has a gay son but nevertheless voted against the measure. Referring to the 2006 state vote that approved an amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman, Coram said a passage of civil unions for same-sex couples would "invalidate the vote of six years ago."
Referring to other debates on same-sex marriage around the country, GOP House Speaker Frank McNulty and state conservatives have alleged that the civil union bill was part of a coordinated effort by the Obama campaign to ratchet up tensions on the issue in an election year. According to the Post, Gov. Hickenlooper, who is accustomed to receiving praise from both sides of the aisle, broke into laughter when alerted to those accusations.
Last week was a big week for the same-sex marriage debate in the United States. North Carolina voters approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions last Tuesday, keeping same-sex marriage advocates winless on statewide referendums on the issue, a losing streak that spans more than 30 ballots. That vote was followed by President Obama's decision to publicly back gay marriage for the first time.