On Wednesday, a bill to legalise civil unions in the US state of Colorado passed its first vote, bring the state one step closer to allowing same-sex unions.

The Senate committtee passed the bill three votes to two, with Democrats voting for the bill, and Republicans voting against.

The measure had been expected to pass its first vote, and on Wednesday, the committee heard testimony from those supporting and opposed to civil unions, reports the Associated Press.

The bill must pass through the Finance Committee and Appropriation Committee stages before it goes to the floor of the Senate House for a vote.

This is the third year in a row a bill to allow civil unions has faced the state house. Democrats had tried to pass civil union legislation in the past two years, but House Republicans had defeated the measure.

Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper, supports equal marriage, and Democrats control both chambers of the legislature, so the bill is expected to pass this time around.

Nine US states have already decided to legalise full same-sex marriage, most recetly, Maine and Maryland in November of 2012. Illinois has plans to vote on the topic later this year. Civil partnerships are available in several other US states.

In 2011, the governor of the US state of Delaware signed a civil unions bill into law.

Yesterday, the US state of Rhode Island was one step closer to legalising equal marriage, after its House Judiciary Committee unanimously approved a bill which would make it legal.

Last week three hundred people, both for and against equal marriage, signed up to speak at hearings at Rhode Island’s State House and hundreds more gathered outside to protest against proceedings.