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DENVER - Colorado's Senate passed a civil unions for same-sex couples bill on Monday.

After its third and final reading in the Senate, SB-11 will move to the House, where Speaker of the House Mark Ferrandino is the sponsor.

"There are families throughout Colorado, including my own, who are living the same as any family but lack the legal safeguards and recognition afforded to everyone else," Speaker Mark Ferrandino said. "These committed couples want civil unions to uphold the values we all hold dear: commitment to others, stability, responsibility, and, most importantly, family."

This marks the third time the Colorado Senate has approved the legal recognition for gay partners.

The House is now under Democratic control and is likely to approve the measure, sending it to the governor's desk.

Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper has said he plans to sign civil unions into law. Civil unions would grant gay couples rights similar to marriage.

If signed into law, SB-11 will provide committed gay and lesbian couples with critical legal protections and responsibilities, such as the ability to inherit property, to take family leave to care for a partner, to visit a partner in the hospital, and to make medical and end-of-life decisions for a partner.

More than a dozen states allow either civil unions or gay marriage. Colorado's constitution bans gay marriage.