Earlier this month, we wrote a post about the civil union bill that was introduced by Senator Pat Steadman of Denver. As more media attention continues to surround the issue, Democrats in the House are pushing for at least one Republican member to vote to send the bill to the House floor where the family law issue can be debated.
The civil union bill would increase domestic partnership rights for same-sex couples in Colorado. Gay couples are currently not allowed to marry based on an amendment in which marriage is defined as a heterosexual union.
Currently, same-sex couples are not afforded the same rights as those in a heterosexual marriage. It is very difficult for same-sex couples to plan estates together, make medical decisions for each other and adopt children together. If a couple does have a child together, there are no laws in place at the moment that would allow them to establish a child support or visitation plan should the couple separate. Unlike married couples, gay couples can be forced to testify against each other in court.
It is reported, however, that the civil union bill would not only benefit same-sex couples but could also offer some legal rights to elderly individuals who are receiving benefits from a spouse who passed away.
The bill is scheduled for hearing by the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday afternoon. According to a House sponsor, three of 15 Republicans in the Senate voted in favor of sending the bill to the House for debate. He also mentioned that some House Republicans have said they support the bill. It will be interesting to see how Colorado lawmakers decide to vote on this issue.
Source: The Colorado Independent: “House Dems press for full vote on Colorado civil unions bill,” John Tomasic, 30 March 2011