DENVER (AP) -- The Colorado House advanced a bill granting civil unions for gay couples after a debate that started with Democratic House Speaker Mark Ferrandino telling colleagues that the measure is about family, love, and equality under the law.
Ferrandino is the first gay House speaker in Colorado history.
The proposal got initial approval with a voice vote in the Democratic-controlled House on Monday. Another vote this week will send the bill to Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, who will sign.
The measure was one of the most contentious of last year's session. Democrats had enough votes to pass the bill, but Republicans controlled the House and prevented debate to defeat it.
Republicans have tried to amend the bill to include religious exemptions for those opposed to civil unions. Democrats say that opens the door to discrimination.