Thursday, February 5, 2009

Extension of State Employment Benefits to Domestic Partners Gets OK From Senate Committee

A bill that would require the state to extend coverage under insurance policies to the domestic partners of government employees earned the endorsement of a Senate committee Wednesday.

SB 88 aims to prevent the state government from treating same-sex partners of public employees differently than spouses.

"It is the right policy," Sen. Jennifer Veiga, D-Denver, told committee members. "It is the right time."

Veiga is the only openly gay member of the Senate.

The measure was approved by the Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee on a 4-3 party-line vote, with all of the committee's Republicans opposed to it.

In 2006 the state's voters rejected Referendum I, which would have recognized domestic partnerships under state law and mandated that the state provide domestic partners coverage under insurance policies held by its employees.

The proposed "Colorado Domestic Partnership Benefits and Responsibilities Act" was defeated by a 53%-47% margin.

According to the Denver Post, Veiga said Wednesday that her bill, if enacted, would not conflict with the voter's decision in 2006 because it is limited to the issue of benefits for state employees with same-sex spouses.

SB 88 will next be considered by the Senate Appropriations Committee.