Thursday, May 2, 2013

Colorado Civil Unions Bill in Effect

Gay and lesbian couples now have recognition in Colorado. The Bill was signed into law in March 2013 and went into effect on May 1, 2013.

Senate bill 13-011 authorizes civil unions in Colorado and sets forth the rights, responsibilities, and requirements of persons entering a civil union. Two persons, regardless of gender, may enter into a civil union if they are not related by blood, not married to or in a civil union with another person, and are over the age of 18. The bill sets the fees and procedures to obtain a civil union license from a county clerk and to petition the court for the dissolution, invalidation, and legal separation of a civil union. The Department of Public Health and Environment (DPHE) is required to create all necessary forms for civil union licenses and certificates.

The bill grants persons in civil unions the same benefits, protections, and responsibilities as spouses and specifies that persons in a civil union are covered under the statutory definitions of dependent, spouse, next of kin, heir, family, immediate family, and other terms in law indicating a familial or spousal relationship. The bill applies the laws of domestic relations (i.e., divorce, child custody, property division, child support, etc.) to persons in civil unions. The bill applies the benefits, protections, and responsibilities of spouses to the parties to a civil union in several areas, including, among other things:

• estate law;
• workers' compensation benefits;
• unemployment benefits;
• torts and causes of action based on spousal status;
• protections from discrimination based on spousal status;
• probate law;
• adoption law;
• group benefit plans for state employees;
• emergency medical care and visitation;
• Public Employees' Retirement Association (PERA) benefits;
• access to domestic abuse programs and protections;
• victim compensation;
• visitation in correctional and other types of facilities;
• end-of-life care and other issues relating to medical care; and
• access to health, life, and property insurance policies as a dependent

Civil unions are the way to go. Colorado was smart to go with civil unions, following the lead of the Europeans nations. They may have to revisit aspects of the law in the future, just as some European nations have had to do, especially in the matter of adoption.

Related reading:  Legal Equality of Marriage Redefined?

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