Civil Union and Marriage Law
Colorado has made little progress in terms of legalizing same-sex marriage. In 2006, the Definition of Marriage Amendment was on the November ballot and was approved by voters. This decision amended the Colorado Constitution to state explicitly that “only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state.” The amendment also left out the option of permitting domestic partnerships between same sex couples.
In 2011 there was an attempt at passing a same-sex civil union bill but it also fell through. This bill was sponsoredby two gay politicians, Democratic Senator Pat Steadman and Representative Mark Ferrandino. Essentially, it would have been a “contract within a law” but of course, opponents interpreted it as equal to gay marriage. It delineated over 20 rights and responsibilities that same-sex couples who entered into civil unions would have been granted.
The bill was presented to the House Judiciary Committee who heard seven hours of often tearful testimonies, and ended up defeating bill with a 6-5 vote. All five Democrats voted in favor of it, and all six Republicans voted against it. Democrats were disappointed that it failed along party lines.
Had it passed, the bill would have allowed same-sex partners to become eligible for retirement benefits, insurance and responsibilities like making medical decisions on behalf of their partners.
The only same-sex unions the state of Colorado really recognizes are “designated beneficiary agreements.” These are an option for all non-married couples. This type of agreement grants limited rights like death benefits or funeral arrangements; they went into effect July 1st of 2009.
The same-sex marriage amendment, which required 86,000 signatures to make it on the ballot, will not be on the 2012 ballot.
A gay, Aurora college student, Mark Olmstead, introduced the amendment proposal with the intention of raising awareness and because he feels that Colorado constituents feel differently about gay marriage than they did in 2006. Had it passed, it would have overturned the voter-approved definition of marriage.
- Is same-sex marriage allowed in the state of Colorado? No.
- Are same-sex civil unions allowed in Colorado? Yes, only because they are not specifically banned.
- Are same-sex domestic partnerships granted in Colorado? No.