Although Colorado has led the way in the effort to legalize small amounts of marijuana, it's another bill that may just push the state into the 21st century: the Colorado Civil Unions Act. After dying on the legislative floor last year, the bill will be heard and debated at 1:30 p.m. today by the Colorado Senate Judiciary Committee -- a welcome step, says Jace Woodrum, deputy director at One Colorado, a statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy organization.
"We are excited to have the bill debated among legislators who are committed," he said. "It's really well past time that committed gay and lesbian couples have equal protections under the law."
The act will allow any two unmarried adults to enter into a civil union. Under the act, gay and lesbian couples will be afforded many protections and privileges long denied by Colorado's old civil union laws, including the ability to make medical or end-of-life decisions with a partner, or even go into a nursing home with a partner, Woodrum said.
Another significant provision of the act is a change to the adoption process.
"We currently have a provision for step-parent adoption -- also second-parent adoption," Woodrum said. "Right now, gay and lesbian couples can adopt through second-parent adoption, which can be expensive. The process is made a little bit more accessible through civil unions."
The hearing today is a positive sign, but Woodrum stressed that it's only one in a long process. "The bill will be heard in three committees in the senate and three in the house, and it has to be debated both on the floor of the senate and the floor of the house," he said. "But we're excited to begin making our case to lawmakers for why this is important and why this should be passed into law."
The hearing will take place in the Old Supreme Court Chambers and is open to the public.
Below, see a video of Woodrum speaking to civil union supporters after the bill failed last year.
More from our Politics archive: "Video: Civil unions bill dies, proponent 'angry and pissed off and frustrated.'"
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.