July 17, 2019

SB 12-002: Authorizing Civil Unions in Colorado

On January 11, 2012, Sen. Steadman introduced SB 12-002 – Concerning authorization of civil unions. This summary is published here courtesy of the Colorado Bar Association’s e-Legislative Report.

The bill creates the “Colorado Civil Union Act” to authorize any two unmarried adults, regardless of gender, to enter into a civil union. Parties wanting to enter into a civil union apply to a county clerk and recorder for a civil union license. Certain persons may certify a civil union. After the civil union is certified, the officiant files the civil union certificate with the county clerk and recorder. A priest, minister, rabbi, or other official of a religious institution or denomination or an Indian nation or tribe is not required to certify a civil union in violation of his or her right to free exercise of religion. The criteria for a valid civil union are set forth in the bill.

The executive director of the department of public health and environment and the state registrar of vital statistics shall issue forms necessary to implement the Act. Each county clerk and recorder submits records of registered civil unions to the office of vital statistics. A county clerk and recorder collects a fee for a civil union license, which fee is credited to the vital statistics records cash fund. The state registrar of vital statistics is authorized to set and collect an additional fee for verification of civil unions, which fee is credited to the vital statistics records cash fund. A county clerk and recorder collects a $20 fee to be credited to the Colorado domestic abuse program fund.

The bill lists the legal benefits, protections, and responsibilities that are granted under the law to spouses and states that the same shall apply in like manner to parties to a civil union.

The same processes that are provided in law for dissolution, legal separation, and declaration of invalidity of a marriage apply to dissolution, legal separation, and declaration of invalidity of a civil union. Any person who enters into a civil union in Colorado consents to the jurisdiction of the courts of Colorado for the purpose of any action relating to a civil union even if one or both parties cease to reside in the state. The courts are directed to follow the laws of Colorado in a matter filed in Colorado that is seeking a dissolution, legal separation, or invalidity of a civil union that was entered into in another state. The courts are authorized to collect docket fees for the dissolution of a civil union, legal separation of a civil union, and declaration of invalidity of a civil union.

The Act shall not be construed to create a marriage between the parties to a civil union or alter the public policy of this state that recognizes only the union of one man and one woman as a marriage. Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, the Act shall not be interpreted to require a child placement agency to place a child for adoption with parties to a civil union.

The Act includes a reciprocity and principle of comity section that states that a relationship between persons of the same sex that does not comply with section 31 of article II of the state constitution that is legally entered into in another jurisdiction is deemed in Colorado to be a civil union and that, under principles of comity, a civil union, domestic partnership, or a substantially similar legal relationship that is legally created in another jurisdiction is deemed to be a civil union for purposes of Colorado law.

A severability clause is included in the Act.

The executive director of the department of revenue is authorized to appoint a study commission to investigate and report on what changes in the law could be made to ensure equitable tax treatment and to allow parties to a civil union to file a joint state tax return without violating the federal tax laws. Until a statutory change is enacted to authorize the filing of a joint state tax return by parties to a civil union, the Act shall not be construed to permit the filing of a joint income tax return by the parties to a civil union.

A custodian of records is prohibited from allowing a person, other than the person in interest or an immediate family member of the person in interest, to inspect the application for a civil union license of any person; except that a district court may order the custodian to permit inspection of the license application for a civil union upon a showing of good cause.

A person who has entered into a designated beneficiary agreement under Colorado’s designated beneficiary statute is precluded from entering into a civil union with a different person. If both parties to a designated beneficiary agreement are eligible to enter into a valid civil union and subsequently enter into a civil union, the civil union certificate constitutes a superseding legal document that supersedes and invalidates the prior designated beneficiary agreement.

The bill makes other conforming amendments.

The bill takes effect October 1, 2012; except that the provision relating to the inclusion of a partner in a civil union as a dependent on a health insurance policy takes effect January 1, 2013.

Summaries of other featured bills can be found here.

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Comments

  1. Robert Brayden, MD says:

    Society should ask of all people to be committeed to the welfare of another. It is time to pass this. Robert Brayden, MD

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