Colorado's civil union law...
While Colorado does not currently provide for same sex marriages, but only same sex civil unions, some Colorado same sex couples might go to another state to get married. Additionally, some same sex couples who get married while residing in California, or any one of the other states that allow such marriages, may subsequently move to Colorado. One complication that they may face is that, since Colorado does not authorize same sex marriages, it also currently appears to have no authorized legal procedure for a married same sex couple to obtain a divorce in the state.
Recently, Colorado's civil union law took effect, allowing same sex couples to enter into a legally recognized relationship that is not a marriage, but that does involve certain rights and responsibilities. Opposite sex couples can enter into civil unions too if they wish. There are many aspects to this that will impact a variety of family law matters.
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In a dramatic step forward for same sex partners in Colorado, licenses for civil unions became available on April 29. This was made possible by a new state law just passed in March. Both male gay couples and female lesbian couples are eligible for the new civil unions, which extends many of the protections afforded by marriage to those who enter them, but is not considered a marriage under either state or federal law.
Colorado appears likely to formally approve civil unions for same-sex couples after state lawmakers approved Senate Bill 11 with a 39-26 House vote. Experts expect Colorado's governor to promptly sign the bill, passing it into law. The House's passage of the bill reportedly resulted in numerous tears, hugs and an eruption of applause in the Capitol. The state approved civil unions less than a decade after lawmakers effectively barred gay couples from marrying.
Three additional states voted to legalize same-sex unions in November 2012, granting many more gay and lesbian couples across the United States a chance at marriage. However, writer and LGBT activist Rob Watson warns that same-sex couples in or around these states should avoid rushing to be married in order to make a political statement, suggesting that they first spend time deciding if marriage is right for them.
Pueblo's city council declined to vote on a proposal to allow city employees to claim benefits for their same-sex partners, prompting dozens of citizens to leave the meeting in outrage. One woman who lobbied for the proposal passage explained, "We have worked so hard and made so many connections with some of the council members. To watch them vote to table this indefinitely -- I'm still in shock right now." Even though gay marriage is not legal in Colorado, same-sex couples in the state still deal with many issues such as this. In some cases, gay or lesbian couples married in other states must deal with divorce or child custody issues in the state, which can be legally complex. As such, Colorado residents in same-sex partnerships dealing with family law issues are encouraged to contact a qualified attorney.
A Colorado woman who was the first female allowed to file a paternity lawsuit in the state has been granted access to her daughter. The woman made headlines after her former partner fled the U.S. with the couple's daughter in the midst of a bitter divorce. The woman was then forced to go through state courts in order to seek custody of the girl.
To have and to hold from this day forward till death (or divorce) do us part -- a common oath made by couples everywhere when they opt to take the marital plunge with their husband or wife. But what about same-sex couples? Do they not deserve to make the same pledge to their loved one? Do they not deserve the chance to legally divorce when that marriage fails, just like their heterosexual counterparts? These are some of the questions being posed to Colorado lawmakers in recent days; a sentiment that is supported by many politicians, including Governor Hickenlooper.
Recent Pentagon memos may create loopholes in the ban on same-sex marriage in Colorado, possibly allowing military personnel of the same sex to marry using Defense Department facilities like chapels on military bases. But taking advantage of such a loophole could create property division nightmares in the event of a possible divorce down the road. One memo stated that Defense Department property use was subject to a "sexual-orientation neutral" basis, but did clarify that the activity could not be illegal under Colorado law.
The U.S. Census Bureau revealed statistics that showed that more people are reporting same-sex partners throughout the nation. The census said 131,729 couples listed their same-sex partner as a husband or wife. Also included in the census report was the fact that about one in five of those in gay and lesbian partnerships had one or more children in their home, which was consistent in both married and unmarried couples.
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