Emotional testimony from gays and lesbians failed to sway Colorado lawmakers, who on Monday rejected a house bill that would have authorized county clerks to issue licenses for civil unions for eligible same-sex couples. Witnesses said they wanted only the same benefits, protections, and responsibilities granted to married spouses, including the ability to transfer property, survivor benefits, coverage under health plans, and the ability to refuse to testify against their partners. Rep. Shawn Mitchell (R-Broomfield) said the same arguments could be used to legalize polygamous relationships and other arrangements. "Why shouldn't the state recognize that bond?" Mitchell asked. The bill's sponsor, Rep. Tom Plant (D-Nederland), said the measure would have applied only to people prohibited from being married. "We are not seeking to redefine marriage," Plant said.
Julie Tolleson, a Denver attorney and spokeswoman for Equal Rights Colorado, a gay advocacy group, said gays won a major victory last summer when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Texas's same-sex sodomy law, forcing the government out of their bedrooms. "We're now asking government to look at the outside of our homes and see them just like you see all other households across this state," she said.