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Colorado recognizes domestic partnerships for same-sex couples

As the Supreme Court of the United States hears oral arguments in two cases surrounding the constitutionality of same-sex marriage today, many states have taken the matter into their own hands, crafting their own laws to address the issue.

Last week Colorado joined 17 other states in recognizing the right of same-sex couples to enter into marriage or domestic partnership. Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law a bill that would extend to same-sex couples in a civil union many of the rights enjoyed by married heterosexual couples.

These rights include:

  • property rights
  • protections against discrimination based on spousal status
  • rights within the probate laws
  • the ability to adopt a partner's child
  • protections under domestic violence laws
  • legal rights relating to medical care, treatment and hospital visitation
  • eligibility for family leave benefits,
  • financial responsibility for one's partner

Like traditional marriage, there are also limitations. In order to get a civil union license, both parties must be at least 18 years old and the two cannot be related. And to dissolve one, couples must go through dissolution or separation proceedings through district court. These proceedings involve resolving issues of property division, maintenance and matters of child custody or support.

The new law goes into effect May 1. It has been welcomed by civil liberties advocates, particularly in Colorado. In 1992, the state's voters passed a constitutional amendment that denied equal protection under discrimination laws on the basis of sexual orientation. This new law appears to be a step forward for equality in the state.

Source: Yahoo! News, "Colorado Becomes 18th State to Recognize Same-Sex Partnerships," Susan Graybeal, March 22, 2013

To learn more about family law issues in Colorado please visit our website.

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