Colo. civil union ceremonies begin after midnight

DENVER — Gay and lesbian couples are expected to line up in Denver and Boulder as civil unions in Colorado become legal just after midnight.

The new law takes effect at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday and both Denver and Boulder will begin issuing licenses immediately.

The statewide advocacy group One Colorado is hosting a celebration early Wednesday morning at Denver’s Wellington E. Webb Municipal Office Building. In honor of the occasion, the clerk’s office will be open until 3 a.m. to issue civil union licenses to couples eager to take advantage of their rights under the new law.

U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette and Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock will attend and will help perform civil union ceremonies. Local judges and magistrates will also be on hand to perform civil union ceremonies.

The Boulder County Clerk and Recorder will stay open until around 2 a.m. to offer licenses.

Other counties will wait until after daybreak to start issuing civil union licenses. El Paso County will begin issuing them at 8 a.m. without any fanfare while some Pueblo County officials and advocates plan an 11 a.m. rally on the steps of the county courthouse followed by a mass civil union ceremony.

Colorado is the eighth state to have civil unions or similar laws. Nine states and the District of Columbia allow gay marriage.

Gov. John Hickenlooper signed the bill in March, marking the culmination of a dramatic shift in Colorado, where in 1992 voters approved a ban on discrimination protection for gays and in 2006 made gay marriage illegal under the state constitution.

The law allows unmarried couples, both gay and heterosexual, the ability to form civil unions and get rights similar to those of married couples. They include transferring property, making medical decisions, adopting children and qualifying for health insurance and survivor benefits.



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