Civil unions law will be revived

When a legislative committee quietly killed a bill last week — strictly along party lines — that would have given legal protections to civil unions involving same-sex couples, it didn’t draw a lot of news coverage. The event was overshadowed by budget battles in Denver and Washington, D.C.

But neither the limited news coverage nor the death of Senate Bill 172 means that the issue of providing legal protections for civil unions is going away. It will continue to reappear — either as legislation at the state Capitol or as an initiative on the state ballot.

And, based on recent polls that showed significantly more people in Colorado support legally protected civil unions for same-sex couples now than five years ago when a ballot measure offering similar protections was defeated, it is likely that a civil-unions law will eventually be adopted in Colorado.

There are a number of reasons for this. First, fair-minded Coloradans don’t see any reason why people in committed homosexual relationships should be denied many of the legal rights that are available to heterosexuals. These include the ability to inherit property from a partner even if there isn’t a will stating as much, the ability to serve as a guardian for an incapacitated partner, survivor benefits or other insurance assistance when a partner dies.

Also, SB 172 attempted to separate the secular civil unions from religiously sanctioned marriage. A good many Coloradans don’t want government involved in their religion, and they don’t want religious beliefs driving government policy.

And, since Colorado voters passed a constitutional amendment in 2006 defining marriage as being between one man and one woman, no law adopted by the Legislature could legalize gay marriage.

It’s unfortunate, but hardly unexpected, that SB 172 was killed in the state Legislature. But that is not the end of the effort to secure legal protections for same-sex couples. This measure, or something very much like it, will be revived.


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