DENVER — An emotional Gov. John Hickenlooper said Wednesday that he's pulling Colorado lawmakers back to work to resolve a debate over civil unions that ended abruptly without a House vote a day earlier.

Hickenlooper's announcement on the final day of the 2012 regular legislative session was sparked by what the Democratic governor called an "overwhelming need" to discuss civil unions.

Gay rights advocates say the proposal has enough support to become law but was blocked by last-minute stall tactics from GOP House leaders. Republicans disagree, saying the bill came up too late in the session for proper consideration.

Democrats have been pushing for the bill that would grant gay couples legal protections similar to marriage. And Hickenlooper has indicated his support for the plan.

Hickenlooper's decision, which comes amid a national discussion on gay rights, represents arguably his boldest political move since taking office in January 2011. Although praised for orchestrating compromises, they typically happen out of public view.