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SB 172: Civil Unions

LGBT Equality | Marriage Equality
Bill Number: SB11 - 172
Year: 2011
ACLU Position: Active Support
Sponsors: Steadman/Farrandino

Description:

A legislative declaration sets forth the intent of the general assembly in enacting the bill. The bill creates the "Colorado Civil Union Act" (Act) to authorize any 2 unmarried adults, regardless of gender, to enter into a civil union. Parties wanting to enter into a civil union shall apply to a county clerk and recorder for a civil union license. Certain persons may certify a civil union and may file the civil union certificate with the county clerk and recorder. A priest, minister, rabbi, or other official of a religious institution or denomination or an Indian nation or tribe is not required to certify a civil union in violation of his or her right to free exercise of religion. The criteria for a valid civil union are set forth in the bill.

The executive director of the department of public health and environment and the state registrar of vital statistics shall issue forms necessary to implement the Act. Each county clerk and recorder shall submit records of registered civil unions to the office of vital statistics. A county clerk and recorder shall collect a fee for a civil union license, which fee shall be credited to the vital statistics records cash fund. The state registrar of vital statistics is authorized to set and collect an additional fee for verification of civil unions, which fee shall be credited to the vital statistics records cash fund. A county clerk and recorder shall collect a $20 fee to be credited to the Colorado domestic abuse program fund.

The legal benefits, protections, and responsibilities that are granted under the law to spouses shall apply in like manner to parties to a civil union, including the following:

  • 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
  • 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
  • Protections and responsibilities 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 receiving 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 health insurance policies. 

The same processes that are provided in law for dissolution, legal separation, and declaration of invalidity of a marriage apply to dissolution, legal separation, and declaration of invalidity of a civil union. Any person who enters into a civil union in Colorado consents to the jurisdiction of the courts of Colorado for the purpose of any action relating to a civil union even if one or both parties cease to reside in the state. The courts are authorized to collect docket fees for the dissolution of a civil union, legal separation of a civil union, and declaration of invalidity of a civil union. The Act shall not be construed to create a marriage between the parties to a civil union, create or recognize a legal status similar to marriage, or alter the public policy of this state that recognizes only the union of one man and one woman as a marriage. Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, nothing in the Act shall be interpreted to require a child placement agency to place a child for adoption with parties to a civil union. The Act includes a reciprocity and principle of comity section that states that a relationship between persons of the same sex that does not comply with section 31 of article II of the state constitution that is legally entered into in another jurisdiction shall be deemed in Colorado to be a civil union and that, under principles of comity, a civil union, domestic partnership, or a substantially similar legal relationship that is legally created in another jurisdiction shall be deemed to be a civil union for purposes of Colorado law. A severability clause is included in the Act.

The executive director of the department of revenue is authorized to appoint a study commission to investigate and report on what changes in the law could be made to ensure equitable tax treatment and to allow parties to a civil union to file a joint state tax return without violating the federal tax laws. Until a statutory change is enacted to authorize the filing of a joint state tax return by parties to a civil union, nothing in the Act shall be construed to permit the filing of a joint income tax return by the parties to a civil union. A custodian of records is prohibited from allowing a person, other than the person in interest or an immediate family member of the person in interest, to inspect the application for a civil union license of any person; except that a district court may order the custodian to permit inspection of the license application for a civil union upon a showing of good cause. A person who has entered into a designated beneficiary agreement under Colorado's designated beneficiary statute is precluded from entering into a civil union with a different person. If both parties to a designated beneficiary agreement are eligible to enter into a valid civil union and subsequently enter into a civil union, the civil union certificate constitutes a superseding legal document that supersedes and invalidates the prior

designated beneficiary agreement. The bill makes other conforming amendments.


Current Status:

2/14/2011 - Introduced in Senate: Assigned to Judiciary



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