Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Civil unions are one step closer to being law in Colorado

Monday, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the Colorado Civil Union Act (Senate Bill 172). The bill, sponsored by Senator Pat Steadman (D-Denver), will provide committed gay and lesbian couples with access to legal protections and responsibilities, such as the ability to visit a partner in the hospital and to make medical end-of-life decisions for a partner. SB 172 passed the committee on a bipartisan 6-3 vote.

Several states provide some form of legal recognition for gay and lesbian couples including Oregon, California, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Iowa, as well as Washington D.C.

The Colorado Civil Union Act will:

● Allow gay and lesbian couples to enter into a civil union.
● Provide to parties in a civil union the legal benefits, protections, and responsibilities that are granted to married spouses, including:
 o Responsibility for financial support of a partner
 o Responsibility for decisions relating to medical care and treatment
 o Responsibility as priority conservator, guardian, or personal representative for a partner
 o The ability to inherit real and personal property from a partner
 o The ability to protect exempt property from attachment, execution, or garnishment
 o The ability to designate a partner as a beneficiary to retirement
 o The ability to adopt a child of a partner
 o The ability to insure a partner
 o Hospital visitation
 o Eligibility for family leave benefits
 o Survivor benefits under workers compensation laws and local government pensions
● Provide for the dissolution, legal separation, and declaration of invalidity of a civil union.
● Allows the executive director of the department of revenue to appoint a commission to investigate what changes in the law should be made to allow partners to file a joint state tax return (without violating federal tax laws).
● Protect the right of free exercise of religion by not requiring priests, ministers, rabbis, and other religious officials to certify a civil union.

The Colorado Civil Union Act will now be heard in the Senate Finance Committee. The bill is sponsored in the House of Representatives by Representative Mark Ferrandino (D-Denver).

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