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Colorado close to passing civil unions bill

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Colorado close to passing civil unions bill

BY ROB SALERNO - A bill to allow same-sex civil unions is winding its way through the Colorado legislature and may be passed before the end of the session on Wednesday, May 9, The Washington Post reports.

The civil unions bill has already passed the Colorado Senate and made it through two Republican-controlled committees of the Colorado House. It now needs to pass through the House appropriations committee before being voted on by the whole House and signed into law by Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper, who supports it. 

Republicans have a one-vote advantage in the House, but given that Republicans on all three committees have expressed support for the bill, it is expected to pass.

Civil unions, of course, are not gay marriage. And, of course, state-level gay marriage is not recognized federally in the US, so even that wouldn't be equivalent to the real gay marriages performed in Canada. But this would still represent a major advance for gay rights in a state that has twice passed referenda against gay rights -- most recently in 2006, when the state banned gay marriage.

South Park, Colorado, briefly legalized gay marriage in 2005, allowing Big Gay Al and Mr Slave to finally make honest men out of each other. 

Standard US marriage equality boilerplate:

Washington and Maryland recently passed laws joining New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachussetts, Iowa and the District of Columbia in allowing gay marriage. The status of gay marriage in California is currently the subject of appeals to the unconstitutionality of the state's anti-gay-marriage referendum, Prop 8, which will likely end with a decision by the Supreme Court. Lawmakers are also debating the issue in Illinois. Of course, none of these marriages convey the full benefits of marriage because the federal Defense of Marriage Act prohibits the federal government from recognizing gay marriages and allows states not to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

Ten countries already allow full marriage equality nationwide: Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain and Sweden. Brazil allows same-sex marriages in theory, through roundabout rulings of its state and federal Supreme Courts, but they've been performed only in some states. Mexico recognizes same-sex marriages performed in Mexico City only.

Israel recognizes same-sex marriages performed elsewhere only. There are ongoing debates about allowing same-sex marriage in the UK, Australia, Finland and Uruguay, and Denmark is planning to pass same-sex marriage by June. France's Socialist Party is expected to campaign on the issue in national legislative elections this year.

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