Colorado's Democrat-controlled legislature on Tuesday voted in favor of a bill giving gay couples the right to civil unions, signaling a major change in the traditionally conservative state, according to the Associated Press.
The bill, which passed 39-26, now goes to the desk of Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper, who has already promised to sign it into law, said AP, meaning it could take effect as soon as May 1.
"The time has come," announced Democratic Representative Joann Ginal, who is openly gay, according to The Coloradoan.
The measure was fiercely debated in the House for four-and-a-half hours in the lead-up to a provisional Monday vote, said the Denver Post.
Colorado Democratic Representative Mark Ferrandino, also openly gay, told lawmakers on Monday that "[t]his bill is about three simple things. It's about love, it's about family, and it's about equality under the law," reported the Post.
Colorado passed a law banning gay marriage seven years ago, but once the new bill is signed into law the state will join about a dozen others that have approved civil unions for gay couples, said AP.
The US Supreme Court in coming months is set to weigh in on the legality of gay marriage bans enacted by some states, said AP.