Civil unions would right a civil injustice
A bill to grant legal status to gay couples through civil unions won initial support — as anticipated — in a Colorado Senate committee Wednesday. It is expected to move easily through the entire Legislature and be signed by the governor.
Good. We support the bill, as we have similar measures the past two years, when they were approved by the Senate but stalled in the House.
It makes sense to allow gay and lesbian couples rights similar to those of heterosexuals — to share with their partner things like health insurance and retirement benefits, to have access to the same probate system as married couples, to be able to make medical and end-of-life decisions for their partners and to live together in nursing homes.
These aren’t rights that threaten the foundations of our society, nor will they topple conventional marriage. They are measures that simply allow two people who are committed to each other to share resources and legal responsibilities.
Furthermore, we continue to believe an even better system would be to get government out of the business of sanctioning marriage altogether.
Let the state authorize, approve and record agreements between two consenting adults — be they heterosexual or homosexual — contracts that legally spell out their rights and responsibilities with each other.
But those who want the designation of marriage should go to the church or religious organization of their choice to receive the theological blessing and sanction for such a designation.
Limited-government libertarians and conservatives should embrace this notion, since it keeps government out of what is a relationship between two individuals and their god.
But until such a system is proposed by our policy-makers, the civil unions bill is the next best thing. It does not require any religious organization or cleric to approve a civil union. But it does protect the rights of those who seek a committed, long-term relationship with a same-sex partner.
Some critics of the bill argue it overturns the will of the voters from 2006. But, while voters that year narrowly rejected Referendum I — which would have legally allowed domestic partnerships — they did not adopt a constitutional measure against such partnerships or against civil unions.
Moreover, it’s been nearly seven years since Referendum I was rejected, and Coloradans elected Democratic majorities to both the House and Senate last fall, knowing full well that nearly all of those Democrats support civil unions. In other words, for the majority of voters in the state, their elected representatives are doing just what they were expected to do. That’s not overturning the will of the voters.
We hope the civil unions bill moves quickly through the Senate and House — rather than becoming a last-minute issue, as it was last year — and that it will be signed by the governor.