July 16, 2019

Civil Unions Bill Awaits Governor’s Signature

On Tuesday, March 12, 2013, the Colorado Legislature gave its approval to SB 13-011, “Concerning the Authorization of Civil Unions, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation.” The bill was introduced by Sens. Pat Steadman and Lucia Guzman, and Reps. Mark Ferrandino and Sue Schafer.

Senator Pat Steadman, who sponsored this year’s bill and also last year’s civil unions bill (SB 12-002) and the 2011 version (SB 11-172), issued the following statement on his website.

On Tuesday, March 12, 2013, the House of Representatives voted to pass SB 13-011 by a margin of 39 to 26.  All Democratic members of the House and Senate voted to support the extension of basic legal rights that SB 11 offers to couples in our state, as did a handful of Republican members.  The bill will soon be delivered to the desk of Governor John Hickenlooper for signature.

I’m incredibly proud of our state and this historic accomplishment.  We’ve come a long way from the dark days of 1992, when voters added a controversial and discriminatory provision to the Colorado Constitution that sought to exclude gays and lesbians from the equal protection of the law in our state.  The United States Supreme Court struck down “Amendment 2,” as it was known, in a 6 to 3 decision in 1996.  I sat in the courtroom the October day in 1995 when they heard oral arguments in the Romer v. Evans case.  Looking back on this chapter of our history puts today’s victory in perspective.

The road to equality is long and rocky.  We’ve overcome some major obstacles along the way, but there is more work still to do.  Another provision of the Colorado Constitution continues to discriminate against gay men and lesbians and prevent their equal inclusion in the fabric of our society.  Some day soon it too must be overturned.  As Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the Romer v. Evans opinion, “A state cannot so deem a class of persons a stranger to its laws.”  Passage of SB 11 helps remedy the inequality enshrined in our state constitution and ends the status of “strangers to our laws,” but we still have far to go before the promise of liberty and justice for all is fulfilled.

Governor Hickenlooper promised support of the bill in January’s State of the State address, where he urged the legislature to pass a bill allowing civil unions — “Some of us tried very hard, but it didn’t get done last year. This year, let’s do it. Let’s pass civil unions!”

The Colorado Bar Association has supported the civil unions bill for the second year in a row. The legislation has far-reaching effects, impacting not only domestic relations law but also estate planning, employment law, and other areas. We will continue to post about civil unions, including its effects on specific practice areas, using the civil unions tag. Stay tuned.

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