Thu May 1, 2014
Civil Unions

After One Year Of Civil Unions, Colorado LGBT Still Look To Full Marriage

May 1 marks the one year anniversary of civil unions becoming legal in Colorado. Denver officials will celebrate the milestone with a reception. However, LGBT advocates are still fighting for marriage equality in the state.

Since becoming legal, Denver County has issued 859 civil union licenses, with the first civil union in the city performed by Mayor Michael Hancock shortly after midnight May 1, 2013. The Denver Post reports statewide, 2,320 same-sex couples have entered into a civil union so far.

“Our state has made great strides towards bringing down the walls that divide to become a place where everyone matters and May 1 will forever serve as a day to celebrate this momentous step,” said Hancock in a statement.

One Colorado, the state’s largest LGBT advocacy group said celebrating civil unions in Colorado is important. But Director Dave Montez said work still needs to be done to bring marriage equality to the state.

“While we applaud this anniversary as Colorado’s first step in protecting all families, we always knew that civil unions were just that, an important first step,” Montez said. “With 61 percent of Coloradans supporting the freedom to marry, we know that people understand that nothing compares to marriage in protecting couples and their families.”

Civil unions are not recognized by the federal government as a marriage. They do, however, provide comprehensive benefits and obligations to same-sex couples living in Colorado.

In a statement that accompanied the Mayor's, Denver’s Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson agreed with the broader point on marriage equality, even as she acknowledged the anniversary.

“We thank all those who have worked long and hard in this struggle for equality and we look forward to the day where there will be no need for two applications at the Clerk's office - one for LGBT families and one for everybody else,” Johnson said.

Currently, nine same-sex couples are challenging Colorado’s marriage ban in state court. Similar to cases in other states, the couples say the ban denies them equal protection under the law.

One Colorado is also part of a larger coalition called Why Marriage Matters Colorado, which recently aired a statewide television spot advocating for same-sex marriage.

Montez said everything is on the table to achieve marriage equality, but as of now, there’s no effort underway to create a ballot initiative to overturn the constitutional amendment this year.