Big news on Tuesday! Lawmakers passed the bill to allow civil unions in Colorado. The bill to create the “Colorado Civil Union Act” is now on its way to Governor John Hickenlooper who is expected to sign it into law within two weeks. Assuming the bill is signed it will become law on May 1st.
So, what exactly is a civil union?
A Civil Union is a legally recognized partnership similar to marriage. It provides legal protection to couples at the state level, but omits federal protections. The “Colorado Civil Union Act” authorizes any 2 unmarried adults, regardless of gender, to enter into a civil union. Colorado will join 8 states that have civil unions or similar laws that allow straight or gay couples to enter into them.
What are the benefits of entering into a civil union?
• Responsibility for financial support of a party to a civil union;
• Rights and abilities concerning transfer of real or personal property;
• Prohibitions against discrimination based upon spousal status;
• The probate laws relating to estates, wills, trusts, and intestate succession, including the ability to inherit real and personal property, apply equally to couples in a civil union.
• Survivor benefits under, and inclusion in workers’ compensation laws;
• The right of a partner in a civil union to be treated as a family member or as a spouse under the “Colorado Employment Security Act” for purposes of unemployment benefits.
This is just small fraction of the benefits granted to parties in a civil union. To see the full list of the rights, benefits, protections, duties, obligations, responsibilities, and other incidents under the law that are granted or imposed, click here.
What is the difference between a civil union and a marriage?
• The right to federal benefits. States that allow some type of same-sex union are able to grant only state rights. The Defense of Marriage Act passed in 1996 prohibits same-sex couples from receiving federal marriage rights and benefits.
• Portability. Because civil unions are not recognized by all states, such agreements are not always valid when couples cross state lines.
• Terminology. “Marriage” is a term that conveys societal and cultural meaning, important to both gay rights activists and those who don’t believe gays should marry.
These are three main differences between civil unions and marriage as it’s traditionally viewed. To see the full analysis go to FACTCHECK.ORG