21 civil unions approved in Mesa County

Mesa County has issued 26 civil union license applications since they became legally available in Colorado May 1.

As of Monday, the county had collected 21 of those completed applications and recorded them, making the unions binding, according to the recording office.

Mesa County Clerk Sheila Reiner said during a county commissioners meeting Monday morning she expected to see more interest in civil unions in the county, especially given its location.

“We expected people to come in from other states, being a border county,” she said.

Heidi Jeanne Hess, Western Slope field organizer for gay rights advocacy group One Colorado, said she’s not surprised by the 26 figure. She said Mesa County’s proximity to Utah likely wouldn’t help increase license numbers because eastern Utah is fairly rural and the rights given to Colorado couples with civil unions would not apply in Utah. She added many couples weren’t interested in rushing into a same-sex or opposite-sex union the second it became legal.

“I think it’s predictable,” Hess said. “It’s a legal decision. I think people should take them seriously, put time and thought into it.”

Mesa County’s numbers are close to those in Weld and Pueblo counties, where 28 and 34 civil union applications, respectively, have been issued since May 1. Larimer County has issued 67 applications, El Paso County has issued 115 applications and Boulder County has issued 126 applications since the beginning of May.

Reiner discussed the civil unions bill during a presentation Monday about legislation that will impact the Mesa County Clerk and Recorder’s Office. Other new laws that will affect clerk and recorder operations, she said, include one moving the voter residency requirement for voting from 29 days before an election to 22 days, elimination of an inactive voter category that wipes voters from active status if they failed to vote, and pre-registration for voting becoming available for 16-year-olds when they get their driver’s licenses.


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