CO Legislature Begins: Civil Unions on the Agenda
DENVER - The Colorado state Legislature begins its session Wednesday (January 9), and one of the first bills introduced will be an issue which caused House Republicans last year to shut down voting rather than bring the measure to the floor. Lawmakers are expected to introduce a bill legalizing civil unions for same-sex couples in the state.
Same-sex marriage is banned by Colorado's constitution,but Mindy Barton, legal director from the GLBT Community Center of Colorado, says civil unions are another matter.
"We're looking at the fact that two people in a committed relationship, gay or straight, should be able to take care of and be responsible for each other, and to have the state recognize relationships between gay men or lesbians."
The Colorado legislative action is coming as the U.S. Supreme Court gets ready to hear two cases on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage, the Federal Defense of Marriage Act and California's Proposition Eight, both of which make same-sex marriage illegal.
Gregory Angelo, interim executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, says the recent election demonstrates that public opinion is changing on the issue of same-sex marriage.
"Any Supreme Court ruling that would not acknowledge the fact that marriages exist, and that they exist at the purview of the states, would actually be infringing on the ability of those states to pass and recognize marriage recognition for same-sex couples."
However the Supreme Court rules, Barton says it isn't likely that Colorado's constitutional ban on gay marriage would be changed in the near future.
"That takes time and resources that are just not quite there yet. The likelihood that the U.S. Supreme Court decision would invalidate all of the state-level DOMAs would be very very low."
But she adds, Colorado has made strides since being dubbed the "hate state" in the '90s. This year, Mark Ferrandino was named Speaker of the House in Colorado, the first openly-homosexual man to hold that position.