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Colorado
legislature grapples with rights of gay couples

Colorado
legislature grapples with rights of gay couples

Three dueling measures dealing with the rights of same-sex couples have been launched in the Colorado legislature. The first effort is a measure that would permit civil unions. Partners would gain legal rights similar to those given to married couples. It was introduced by Democrat Tom Plant, who has sponsored similar legislation in Colorado before. If the measure passes the house and senate, it will appear on the November ballot. Plant says he's not sure where the voters stand and that the decision should be up to them. "We would like to ask them: Do you agree that this is an issue of just plain, basic fairness? And I think that they'll agree with us," he said. Plant's bill would require that same-sex couples be treated in the same way as married couples under state law. This would mean applying the same rules regarding inheritance, property, divorce, and children as well as hospital visitation and decisions regarding death and funerals. The second measure is being advanced by a coalition of conservative groups that includes Colorado-based Focus on the Family. They've taken the first step toward getting a referendum on the November ballot that would define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Both sides say that the first and second measures could legally coexist, if both passed. The third measure is a regular bill in the senate, introduced by Republican senator Shawn Mitchell. He has been a main opponent of the civil unions bills in the past. He says the so-called reciprocal benefits bill is intended to solve practical legal problems for those who can't marry, including roommates, same-sex couples, and blood relations. Supporters of the civil unions referendum say that everything in Mitchell's bill is already available with the help of a lawyer. Mitchell's bill may have a hard time passing in the Democrat-majority state legislature. (Daniel Costello, Sirius OutQ News)

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