The Colorado government, now completely run by Democrats, has done an about-face regarding civil unions for gay couples. Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill allowing same-sex civil unions roughly a year ago after the same idea went down to defeat in what was then a Republican-led House. But last November Democrats won the House, having control of the Senate already, and the new alignment allowed the bill to be passed. It will go into effect May 1.
Most of the Republicans in the state government held fast against the measure because they wanted religious exemptions granted to those who oppose same-sex unions. Although churches are exempt, businesses and adoption agencies are now subject to the new law.
Colorado has been a center for the battle over same-sex civil unions for decades. In 1992, an amendment was passed banning municipal antidiscrimination laws. In 1996, the Supreme Court ruled that law unconstitutional.
Now Colorado is the ninth state to accept same-sex civil unions or laws that essentially allow the same thing.
The new law means that gay couples have rights to enhanced inheritances and parental rights, just as heterosexual couples do. Republican Rep. Lori Saine, speaking against the measure, said, "Even though it was specifically told to us that it wasn't about marriage, I think both sides know that it is what it is about.”
Democratic House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, openly gay and the sponsor of the bill, said, "It's really meaningful. To have the recognition of your love and relationship just like any other relationship by the state is an important both legal and symbolic thing.” He added that the shift in the law "shows how much through hard work and through a very thoughtful approach you can change public opinion."