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Separate ballot
questions support, oppose gay couples in Colorado

Separate ballot
questions support, oppose gay couples in Colorado

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State lawmakers on Friday approved a ballot measure to provide domestic-partner rights, one day after signature gathering began on an initiative to ban same-sex marriage.

Following a nasty debate on the floor of the Colorado house, state lawmakers on Friday passed a proposal to give same-sex partners many of the benefits of marriage, reports The Rocky Mountain News. The vote was split largely along party lines, with Republicans arguing that the measure erodes marriage and is bad for children, and Democrats saying it's about fairness.

House Bill 1344, known as the domestic-partnership bill, is sponsored by Democratic representative Tom Plant. It would allow registered same-sex partners to receive many of the benefits, protections, and responsibilities that Colorado grants to spouses, including adoption of a partner's child, responsibility for financial support of a partner, and inheritance rights.

If the bill wins formal approval by a simple majority in the house and senate, which are both controlled by Democrats, it would go on the November ballot. It would not require the signature of GOP governor Bill Owens, who leaves office this year because of term limits.

In related news, on Thursday a group that wants to pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in Colorado was cleared to collect signatures to place the issue on November's ballot. Wayne Munster, acting director of state elections, said the petition forms submitted by Coloradans for Marriage have been approved. The group now needs to gather about 68,000 valid voter signatures to get on the ballot.

"We'll be working within churches a lot, we'll be working in the communities," said Jon Paul, the group's executive director. "Anywhere where there's a lot of people, we'll be there." (The Advocate)

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