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Colorado legislature turns blue, meaning civil unions will likely be approved

DENVER, Colo. – Democrats swept to power in Colorado on Tuesday, taking control over both branches of government, and all but assuring that a civil unions bill will be passed in 2013.

By retaking the House, the Democrats removed the one big obstacle in the path toward equality: Republican Speaker Frank McNulty controlled the agenda of the House, and he singlehandedly prevented an early May vote on civil unions that was guaranteed passage with bipartisan support and again after Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, called a special session on May 15.

With McNulty now in the minority party, the Democrats will drive the agenda and, seemingly in a rebuke to McNulty, chose an openly gay man as the new Speaker. Rep. Mark Ferrandino will make history in Colorado as the first LGBT lawmaker to serve as Speaker, and only the fourth gay Speaker in the U.S.

Ferrandino’s rise to Speaker is an incredible story, and the Denver Post shared with readers how he was born with oxygen deprivation and had problems developing his speech and reading and had other learning disabilities while growing up. Ferrandino fought back tears when he spoke after his nomination was announced:

"I told myself I wasn't going to cry, but as a kid growing up in New York who had a learning disability, who was in special education, who struggled a lot, a kid who was picked on, called names, to be where I am and have your support, that is awesome; it is humbling. I couldn't dream when I was in elementary school or high school that I would be standing here. So thank you."

Ferrandino and his partner, Greg Wertsch, who works for the Department of Homeland Security, have been together for 12 years.

The Colorado legislature is expected to take up the civil unions bill in 2013.