Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Colo. Senate gives OK to same-sex benefits

Colo. Senate gives OK to same-sex benefits

Despite a heated debate in which one state senator linked homosexuality to murder, the Colorado Senate has approved a domestic partner bill.

A similar bill already has already passed the House. The two bills must still be harmonized and have a final vote in both houses.

The legislation would make it easier for unmarried couples in Colorado, including gays and lesbians, to make medical decision for incapacitated partners and leave property to their partners.

While debating the bill on the floor of the state Senate on Monday, a Republican lawmaker, Scott Renfroe, took the rhetoric to new heights by equating homosexuality as a sin with murder.

“I’m not saying this (homosexuality) is the only sin that’s out there, we have murder. We have all sorts of sin. We have adultery. And we don’t make laws making those legal, and we would never think to make murder legal.” Said Renfroe.

Renfroe also called homosexuality an “abomination” and an “offense to God” and argued that God created men and women so they would procreate. Moreover, Renfroe also compared the nuclear family structure to the Holy Trinity and, quoting the book of Genesis, said women had been created to be “helpers” for men.

Other Republicans said the bill, which would allow partners of gay state employees to be covered by health care benefits, is an attempt by Democrats to chip away at a constitutional amendment voters passed in 2006 defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

“These are just micro-steps to a lawsuit in the Colorado Supreme Court to overturn what the voters voted for,” charged Sen. Dave Schultheis, R-Colorado Springs.

The law would apply to same and opposite-sex unmarried couples.

In 2006, voters passed a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. The same year, they rejected another ballot issue that would have given same-sex couples many of the rights of marriage including property inheritance rights and the power to make medical and funeral arrangements.

Renfroe’s remarks brought a swift response from Sen. Jennifer Veiga (D) Colorado’s first openly gay lawmaker and the Senate sponsor of the bill.

“I will stand here today and tell you that God also created me, and the last time I checked, I am who I am,” she said.

To critics who claimed the bill violates the gay marriage ban, Veiga said…

“This brings no two people, myself, my partner, no other gay and lesbian partner, closer to walking down that aisle. It provides no tax benefits. It provides no other benefits. This is not about marriage. This is about health care. This is an equality issue and a fairness issue.”

Colorado voters also defeated a referendum in 2006 that would have granted gay couples the same legal rights as married heterosexual couples.

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