Colorado LGBT Couples Await Historic Midnight Civil Unions
In less than 24 hours, same sex couples in Colorado will be able to enter into a civil union. Clerk and Recorder’s offices are gearing up for the expected rush on their offices.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered advocates are gearing up for one big party.
Offices in Larimer and Weld counties are increasing their staffing. Denver’s Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson says her office will open at midnight Wednesday. “This is very historical for Denver and Colorado, so, you know getting prepared for this. Yes, there has been a lot of work to do it, but it’s kind of a feeling of excitement as we prepared for it,” Johnson says.
Since Governor Hickenlooper signed civil unions into law, Johnson says her agency has been training staff and testing computer systems which were updated to accept civil union licenses. “The process is very similar to issuing a marriage license, there are few differences and yes there has been training for staff,” says Johnson. “But also more importantly a lot of testing in terms our software in having the capability and capacity to issue these licenses.”
Boulder’s Clerk and Recorder will also open at midnight. Larimer and Weld county offices will open Wednesday at 8 am.
Brad Clark, Executive Director of One Colorado an LGBT advocacy group, says large celebrations are being planned in Denver and other cities, “In Colorado Springs we’ll be hosting actual civil union ceremonies that evening at city hall,” Clark said. “And then in Grand Junction we’ll be hosting a community reception at the Center for Independence.”
Clark says Wednesday will be an overwhelming moment for many people, gay and straight, who have fought for equal rights in Colorado. “Without a doubt it’s incredibly exciting,” says Clark. “In every corner of the state couples who have been waiting for 10, 20 some of them 40 years to have these protections, so we are just really excited to celebrate with them.”
When the first couples receive their civil union licenses in the early hours of May 1st, it will be nearly one year after a special session on civil unions in the Colorado Legislature failed with no agreement. Seven years has passed since voters approved a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.
Entering into a civil union grants same-sex couples many rights afforded straight couples including:
- Adopting a child together
- Qualifying for health insurance
- Hospital visitation rights
- Responsibilities relating to medical care of a partner
- Survivor benefits under workers' compensation laws and state and local government pension
However, over 1,000 other federal rights, benefits, and responsibilities are still out of reach.
One Colorado released a video for interested same-sex couples to familiarize themselves with the new civil union licenses.
In Denver, ceremonies for same-sex couples will be held from midnight until 2 am in the Atrium of the Wellington E. Webb Municipal building at 201 W. Colfax Ave. The building will open to the public at 10:30 pm Tuesday evening. Ceremony officiants will include Denver Mayor Michael Hancock as well as Colorado Congresswoman Diana DeGette.