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Photos: John Hickenlooper signs Colorado Civil Unions Act into law

It's only fitting that the acme of Governor John Hickenlooper's recent political responsibilities came in a building called History Colorado. On Thursday, before a crowd of hundreds lining railings three stories up and jostling for a view, Hickenlooper signed the Colorado Civil Unions Act into law.

Below, see photos and a video from the signing ceremony, along with details about a legislative achievement that's been a long time coming.

Hickenlooper has dealt with groundswell of public opinion on controversial issues, including the recently-passed gun laws. But as he prepared to sign the bill into Colorado law, it was clear that this issue took on highly emotional tones, as people shed tears of both joy and sadness.

Senator Pat Steadman, whose partner passed away late last year from pancreatic cancer, opened the event by thanking his fellow co-sponsors of the bill -- Senator Lucía Guzmán and representatives Mark Ferrandino and Sue Shafer -- as well as members of the public present to witness the historic event. "Together, all of us, everyone in this room, has done so much work, not just this year, not just last year, but over the course of our lives, to bring our movement to this point where we are about to witness real inclusion into Colorado society, and we have a lot to be thankful for," Steadman said. When Hickenlooper took the microphone, he opened with an anecdote about his earlier days at the Wynkoop Brewery in an effort to demonstrate just how far the state has come since the early 1990s, when the passage of Amendment 2, a measure that precluded "special rights" for gays and lesbians, led to Colorado being branded the "hate state."

The brewery had just promoted a gay bartender to the position of general manager, Hickenlooper recalled, and that didn't sit well with some people.

"A couple customers came up and they wanted to see the owner, and I thought they were going compliment us [on] what a great job he's doing," he noted. "And, of course, they said they weren't going to come to our business anymore. A waitress was standing beside me, and she says, 'You know, that's not going to bother any of us at all.'"

Continue for more about yesterday's signing ceremony, including photos and a video.

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Charles Trowbridge

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