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Durango couple eyes Denver as lawmakers open debate on civil unions

Laura Latimer and Professor Ellen Paul attend college events in Durango with their 8-month-old son Alexander strapped to one of their chests. They wear Ernie and Burt hats around the house for comic relief. They own four dogs. They plan their days around their son's nap time, just like all new parents do, and they want to be there for each other for the long haul, come what may. They work. They vote. They pay their taxes. Whether they realize it or not or even care, Laura and Ellen and Alexander are an apple pie American family. Because Laura and Ellen are lesbians, however, they pay more money for less civil rights than straight couples do, a fact that could change this year in Colorado as Senate Bill 172 makes its way though the legislature in Denver. The bill, sponsored by Senator Pat Steadman, would create legal domestic-partner civil unions in the state, and it meets its first test at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in the Old Supreme Court Chambers under the dome this afternoon.