Republicans and Democrats in the state Senate yesterday approved SB-2, the Colorado Civil Union Act. The bill will next have to clear the state House of Representatives. The Civil Union Act wouldn’t give gay couples the right to marital status—that’s currently banned under the state Constitution—but would grant civil unions many of the same rights afforded to married couples.
Democratic State Senator Pat Steadman sponsored the bill in the Senate, along with Democratic State Senator Lucia Guzman. Both are gay. Steadman and Guzman are relying on openly gay Minority Leader Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, to co-sponsor the bill in the House and to persuade at least one member of the Republican majority to support the act. As of this writing, no House Republican has openly supported the bill.
The rights included in the Colorado Civil Union Act are listed below.
- Responsibility for financial support of a party to a civil union;
- Rights and abilities concerning transfer of real or personal property to a party in a civil union;
- The ability to file a claim based on wrongful death, emotional distress, loss of consortium, dramshop, or other laws, whether common law or statutory, related to or dependent upon spousal status;
- Prohibitions against discrimination based upon spousal status;
- The ability to inherit real and personal property from a party in a civil union under the probate code;
- Priority for appointment as a conservator, guardian, or personal representative;
- Survivor benefits under and inclusion in workers’ compensation laws;
- The ability to adopt a child of a party to a civil union;
- The ability to insure a party to a civil union under group benefit plans for state employees;
- The ability to designate a party in a civil union as a beneficiary under the state public employees retirement system;
- Survivor benefits under local government firefighter and police pensions;
- Protections and coverage under domestic abuse and domestic violence laws;
- Rights and protections under victims’ compensation laws and victims and witness protection laws;
- Laws, policies, or procedures relating to emergency and nonemergency medical care and treatment and hospital visitation;
- Rights to visit a party in a civil union in a correctional facility, jail, or private contract prison or in a facility providing mental health treatment;
- The ability to file a complaint about the care or treatment of a party in a civil union in a nursing home;
- Rights relating to declarations concerning the administration, withholding, or withdrawing of medical treatment, proxy decision-makers and surrogate decision- makers, CPR directives, or directives concerning medical orders for scope of treatment forms with respect to a party to a civil union;
- Rights concerning the disposition of the last remains of a party to a civil union;
- The right to make decisions regarding anatomical gifts;
- Eligibility for family leave benefits;
- Eligibility for public assistance benefits;
- A privilege from providing compelled testimony against a party in a civil union and evidentiary privileges for parties to a civil union;
- The right to apply for emergency or involuntary commitment of a party to a civil union;
- The right to claim a homestead exemption;
- The ability to protect exempt property from attachment, execution, or garnishment;
- Dependent coverage under life insurance; and
- Dependent coverage under health insurance policies; except that this provision is effective for plans issued, delivered, or renewed on or after January 1, 2013.