Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bill Mandating Benefits for Domestic Partners Gets Committee OK

A controversial bill that would require the state to provide the same employee benefits for same-sex couples as it does for married employees advanced to the House floor Monday.

HB 1260, while not establishing domestic partnerships or requiring the state to recognize same-sex civil unions, has nevertheless drawn fire from Republicans who insist that it contradicts voters' rejection of Referendum I in 2006.

According to an article in this morning's Denver Post, the GOP's Bob Gardner, of Colorado Springs, insisted during a hearing on the bill that it creates "de facto civil unions."

But sponsoring Rep. Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, said the bill's impact is not limited to gay couples.

The Post report quoted Ferrandino as saying that HB 1260 is aimed at "making sure people can take care of each other."

He was supported in that view by Rep. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, who voted with the majority Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee to advance the measure to the House Committee of the Whole.

The U.S. Bureau of the Census estimated in 2007 that there are more than 750,000 same sex couples in the country.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures 14 states mandate that public employee benefit programs recognize domestic partnerships.