5:16am

Wed February 13, 2013
Politics

LGBT Couples Cautiously Optimistic Civil Unions Will Pass

After breezing through the Colorado Senate, a bill that would legalize civil unions for same-sex couples will soon be on its way to the House where it’s also expected to face little resistance.

LGBT couples remain cautiously optimistic this is the year a bill is signed into law.

Fran and Anna Simon have almost become the de facto face of the civil unions debate in Colorado. From newspaper photos to YouTube videos the couple, who have been in a committed relationship for nearly a decade, have fought for passage of civil unions each year it's been introduced.

“Well, we’re happy to do it for the cause,” say Fran, “but we wish we didn’t have to do it. We want people to see that we’re just like them. We have the same hopes and value and dreams and the same daily agenda. You know, getting up having breakfast getting [our son] off to school. Going to work, picking him up from school, taking him to activities.”

From their perspective, 2012 was lining up to be the year lawmakers would legalize civil unions.

But, according to Fran, things fell apart.“Sitting there watching them kill 30 plus bills just to kill civil unions…unbelievable.”

The pair was obviously down, but definitely not out. Both vowed to carry on the fight to this year’s legislative session. The reason for Anna is two huge binders full of legal paperwork and contracts meant to provide security for her family. “Even the things we spent thousands of dollars to have in place, like medical power of attorney, designated beneficiaries, we don’t know whether in the moment that we need it -in that emergency situation, will we have the right paperwork at the right time.”

Fran and Anna say while the debate hasn’t been as contentious this year as last, the rhetoric leading up to the vote on civil unions has still been tough on the family. “What I think those folks don’t understand is how hurtful their position is both in a psychological sense and in a very practical sense.” Anna says. “They might know someone who is gay or lesbian without even realizing it because they have an idea of what a gay or lesbian person necessary looks like or acts like or dresses like.”

Legal civil union in Colorado would extend many benefits to same sex couples, including rights surrounding adoption, hospital visitation and medical decisions. While the Simon's will be one of the first to apply for a civil union– Fran says they’re still hoping for the next step. “A civil union is not marriage. I think [we], like most couples, would like to be married. Our [state] constitution bans marriage for us at this point, so civil unions can provide us the legal protections we need now.”

She agrees the bill is a good first step, however, “it’s not the same as full equality. And that’s certainly what we’re wanting for our family, and all families like ours.”

Civil unions legislation is expected to be one of the first approved in the 2013 legislature. And even though the Simons are hoping one day to be legally married, Colorado’s constitution continues to bans gay marriage.

Efforts to change that law are underway to bring a measure before voters in 2014.