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Colo. civil union backers worry about next step

Associated Press Modified: May 4, 2012 at 2:01 pm •  Published: May 4, 2012

DENVER (AP) — Democrats pushing for Colorado civil unions worried Friday about the bill's fate after a pointed warning from the Republican House speaker about legislators attacking the motives of opponents.

The bill calling for legal protections for gay couples similar to marriage passed with a 6-5 vote late Thursday in the GOP-led judiciary committee that rejected the same legislation last year.

Rep. B.J. Nikkel, a Larimer County Republican who previously voted against the bill, said she changed her position and cast the deciding vote after seeing the outpouring of support from dozens of people at the hearing, many wearing red shirts that read, "One Love."

The measure faces two more committee votes, and a full House vote, before the session ends Wednesday. But bill sponsors say they have enough support from Republicans to pass the measure within a week and get it to Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, who is firmly behind the plan.

Republicans, however, control the scheduling of bills in the House because they have a 33-32 vote advantage. Republican House Speaker Frank McNulty delivered a speech from the chamber's podium Friday, cautioning lawmakers against questioning others' motives if they don't like what happens with legislation before the session ends.

He later said in an interview with The Associated Press that the bill will be scheduled under the rules, even though he noted that some supporters seek preferential treatment for certain bills.

The next hearing could happen later Friday.

McNulty said Senate Democrats took months to move the bill to the House and did it on purpose to force a decision within the final days of the legislative session.

"I think that there are those in the Democratic Party that want to make sure that this issue is a political issue in November," he said, referring to the upcoming election.

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