On January 7, 2015, Sen. Pat Steadman introduced SB 15-016 — Concerning Marriages by Individuals who are Parties to a Civil Union, and, in Connection Therewith, Prohibiting Marriages in Circumstances in which One of the Parties is Already in a Civil Union with Another Individual, Addressing the Legal Effect of Parties to a Civil Union Marrying Each Other, Clarifying the Dissolution Process when Parties to a Civil Union Marry, and Amending the Bigamy Statute to Include Parties to a Civil Union. This summary is published here courtesy of the Colorado Bar Association’s e-Legislative Report.
The bill addresses issues that have arisen in Colorado regarding marriages by individuals who are in a civil union or who will enter into a civil union after recent court decisions have declared same-sex marriage bans, such as section 31 of article II of the state constitution, unconstitutional. The bill amends the statute on prohibited marriages to disallow a marriage entered into prior to the dissolution of an earlier civil union of one of the parties, except a currently valid civil union between the same 2 parties. The executive director of the department of public health and environment is directed to revise the marriage license application to include questions regarding prior civil unions. The bill states that the “Colorado Civil Union Act” (act) does not affect a marriage legally entered into in another jurisdiction between 2 individuals who are the same sex. The construction statute for the act is amended to clarify that it must not be construed to create a marriage, including a common law marriage, between the parties to a civil union. Two parties who have entered into a civil union may subsequently enter into a legally recognized marriage with each other by obtaining a marriage license from a county clerk and recorder in this state and by having the marriage solemnized and registered as a marriage with a county clerk and recorder. The bill states that the effect of marrying in that circumstance is to merge the civil union into a marriage by operation of law. A separate dissolution of a civil union is not required when a civil union is merged into a marriage by operation of law. If one or both of the parties to the marriage subsequently desire to dissolve the marriage, legally separate, or have the marriage declared invalid, one or both of the parties must file proceedings in accordance with the procedures specified in the “Uniform Dissolution of Marriage Act”. Any dissolution, legal separation, or declaration of invalidity of the marriage must be in accordance with the “Uniform Dissolution of Marriage Act”. If a civil union is merged into marriage by operation of law, any calculation of the duration of the marriage includes the time period during which the parties were in a civil union. The criminal statute on bigamy is amended, effective July 1, 2015, to include a person who, while married, marries, enters into a civil union, or cohabits in this state with another person and to include a person who, while still legally in a civil union, marries, enters into a civil union, or cohabits in this state with another person.
The bill was assigned to the Senate State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee, where it was postponed indefinitely on January 21, 2015.