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Civil Unions Could Be Economic Benefit for Colorado

March 7, 2011

DENVER - Legalizing civil unions could mean big budget bucks for Colorado. That's the finding from a recent study by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law. The study predicts that Colorado will benefit to the tune of nearly $5 million over three years if same-sex civil unions are recognized.

Sen. Pat Steadman co-sponsored the Colorado Civil Union Act. It is slated to be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee today. Steadman says the bill would give same-sex civil union partners the ability to make legal decisions in a medical emergency and to share financial resources - rights and responsibilities similar to those currently afforded married spouses.

"It actually imposes an obligation on couples to be responsible for one another and to be jointly considered in terms of eligibility for public assistance programs."

The Williams Institute found that the state could also generate income from passage of the act, through increased state licensing fees and tax revenues.

Lisa Green would love to join in a civil union with her long-term partner. She has multiple sclerosis and worries that her partner will be unable to help her in case of an emergency.

"It's terrifying to think that the person who knows me best, who loves me most, who my family would actually want making decisions about me, potentially would not be able to do that."

She says often people are afraid that legalizing same-sex partnerships might take away from things they want or need.

"If people feel as if it's not going to affect what they have or they need or they want, people will be much less fearful about it."

Steadman expects that civil unions could actually have a trickle-down economic effect.

"There will probably be some ceremonies and some parties and some catering, florists and gifts that are part of them and will help boost our local economy."

The Williams Institute study can be found at www2.law.ucla.edu.

Kathleen Ryan, Public News Service - CO