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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