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domestic-partnership bill in limbo

domestic-partnership bill in limbo

A Republican proposal to allow same-sex couples and others to receive some limited benefits is in limbo after a Colorado senate committee in Denver deadlocked Monday over whether to support it. The measure allows any two people who can't marry to sign up and obtain rights normally granted to married couples, such as automatically inheriting the other's property and workers' compensation and survivor's benefits. It could apply to everyone from gay couples to two elderly sisters. The three Republicans on the senate business, labor, and technology committee backed the bill, but the three Democrats on the committee voted against it. The committee's fourth Democrat, Sen. Deanna Hanna, left in the middle of the meeting and didn't vote. Sponsor senator Shawn Mitchell said he needs to check the rule book to see if there's a way to move it on to the senate floor. He wants senators to consider it along with a Democratic domestic-partnership proposal that would give same-sex couples the same rights as married couples under state law. Mitchell's bill has the backing of Focus on the Family's public-policy arm and Colorado's three Roman Catholic bishops but has been criticized by others who oppose any protections for same-sex couples. "We do not believe that homosexual couples should be given special rights, nor do we believe that they should be set aside for special discrimination," said Jim Pfaff of Focus on the Family Action. Same-sex couples and others can already get the rights outlined in the bill if they hire an attorney to draw up the necessary contracts, but this proposal would save them money and streamline that process. Michael Brewer, public policy director for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Community Center of Colorado, has thanked Focus on the Family for its support but said the proposal doesn't go far enough. For example, a gay person wouldn't be able to sue for a partner's wrongful death and could still be forced to testify against a partner in court, something married spouses don't have to do. Brewer, a member of Equal Rights Colorado, said the group didn't oppose the bill but can't support it either. "In our view, convenience doesn't equal progress," he said. (AP)

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