A Colorado House committee advanced a civil unions bill on Thursday, with one Republican joining Democrats to vote yes for the legislation which is expected to become law in 2013.

The measure passed the House Judiciary Committee 8 votes to 3, with Republican Representative Carole Murray being the only Republican in favour.

Ms Murray, who represents the conservative Castle Rock district, said she had some concerns about the SB-11 Colorado Civil Union Act,  which doesn’t provide legal protections to some people, and because religious organisations disagreed with it.

She did say, however, that she was still compelled to vote for the bill, which would grant gay and lesbian couples some rights similar to marriage, reports the Coloradoan. 

Ms Murray said: “Most important, as my upbringing has taught me, it’s not for me to judge others, but to leave that up to God,” she said becoming emotional. “While on earth, Jesus asked us to love one another. In this spirit, I will be a yes vote.”

She also went on to say that she realised the possible implications of her vote, but made reference to some lawmakers who have said they had a life after leaving politics.

The bill was co-sponsored by Democratic House Speaker Mark Derrandino, the first openly gay lawmaker to hold the title in the state.

“While I have the honor of being the Speaker of the House, my family doesn’t have equality under the law,” he said.

The bill still has to pass in the full House, however it is expected to pass because it is now under Democratic control, and is likely to send the legislation to the Governor’s desk to be signed off.

Democratic Governor, John Hickenlooper, has also said that he plans to sign civil unions into law

The bill would allow gay and lesbian couples similar rights to marriage, which includes inheritance and parental rights, as well as the ability to make medical decisions on behalf of their partners.

After preparing for what could be the Senate’s final vote on the SB-11, Colorado Civil Union Act, it passed 21 votes to 14 on 11 February.