Will Colorado Extend Benefits to Same-Sex Couples?

April 29 2009, 11:31 AM

ferrandino-mark1Although Colorado law bans marriage between same-sex couples, benefits might just be extended to the partners of gay and lesbian state employees. The Associated Press reports that a measure is on Governor Bill Ritter's desk after gaining final approval in the state's House of Representatives yesterday, pleasing proponents and riling opponents. The 34-30 vote on Senate Bill 88 requires that partners of state employees be in a committed relationship for at least a year and would cost the state roughly $150,000 if it goes into effect in July 2010, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette. Bill sponsor Mark Ferrandino (pictured), a Denver Democratic representative who is openly gay, says passing the bill is "the fair and right thing to do." But Representative Kent Lambert of Colorado Springs has questioned the fairness of the bill, claiming that heterosexual couples who are not married should technically qualify and that the bill runs counter to the state's ban on gay and lesbian marriages. The evangelical Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs and its spin-off, Colorado Family Action, ran radio ads opposing the bill in February, according to The Colorado Independent, which provides background on the issue. News8 in Grand Junction, meanwhile, gauges pro and con opinions from around the state.