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May 4, 2012 Print

Colorado Legislature Advances Civil Unions Bill

by CitizenLink Team

The Colorado House Judiciary Committee on Thursday voted 6-5 to approve a bill seeking to establish same-sex civil unions.

SB 2 now heads to the Finance and Appropriations committees, and could be heard by the full House of Representatives as early as next Tuesday. If it reaches the House floor, passage is likely. One Republican who flipped her vote at the eleventh hour — after voting against the measure in the same committee last year — made the difference.

In 2006, Colorado voters simultaneously defeated a referendum virtually identical to the  civil unions law and approved an amendment to the state constitution defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. But SB 2, should it pass, would signify a big step toward nullifying both those efforts.

“The pattern in other states is passage of civil unions (or similar legislation) ushers in court-ordered same-sex marriage,” said Carrie Gordon Earll, CitizenLink’s senior director of Issues Analysis. “For Colorado, it will be a lawsuit against our marriage amendment from 2006. This pattern is evident in court documents and activist strategies available online. It’s naïve and late in the day to suggest that pattern won’t be followed in Colorado.”

If civil unions become law, the ensuing court battle over the constitutional marriage amendment would impose a huge financial burden on Colorado taxpayers. California, whose voters passed a constitutional amendment protecting marriage in 2008, has already spent $10 million in legal fees defending its marriage amendment, and the case is still unresolved.

Homosexual activists claim civil unions are necessary in order to care for their unmarried partners. But Colorado already has a designated-beneficiary law, which allows anyone — married or not — the access they need to care for loved ones.

That, coupled with a second-parent adoption law, provides a wide range of rights to unmarried couples, including the rights to be involved in medical decisions affecting partners; adopt children jointly, decide what happens when a partner dies, inherit property, visit partners in the hospital, receive survivors’ benefits or workers’ compensation claims, designate a partner as beneficiary or dependent in life insurance or health policies, sue for wrongful death and dissolve relationships.

“Colorado voters thought they settled this issue in 2006. We already have some of the most expansive laws giving rights to unmarried couples,” Earll said. “Unless you want the courts to redefine marriage, it’s imperative to act on this now. Otherwise, the vote of the people may be thwarted.”

Colorado residents have a narrow window of opportunity to make their voices heard on SB 2. Get in touch with your state representative and ask him or her to vote “No” on this bill by visiting the CitizenLink Action Center.