Post Independent opinion: Legislature should tie the knot on civil union bill
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Imagine if you could not include the one you love in your group health insurance plan, could not be sure you’d be allowed to visit them in the hospital, or could have no say about their treatment in a nursing home.
This is the reality for same-sex couples in Colorado.
It’s like being not separate but not equal.
The Colorado Legislature once again has a chance to rectify this inequity as it considers Senate Bill 2, known as the Colorado Civil Union Act, to formally recognize civil unions. We encourage lawmakers to pass this bill.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, has passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee and is expected to clear the full Senate with little trouble.
The challenge is expected to be in the House, where Republicans hold a one-vote majority. A similar bill died in the House last year.
Opponents have expressed their opinion that allowing same-sex civil unions will “lessen” marriage. To address that concern upfront, the bill states in its first sentence that “the General Assembly … recognizes only the union of one man and one woman as a marriage.”
But how civil unions would lessen marriage is unclear. The sanctity of one’s own marriage cannot be affected by anything that other couples do or represent.
Those who are married have nothing to fear or to lose from allowing others a civil union. It is those who are denied the civil union who would lose.
Preventing civil unions will not make same-sex couples go away, it will only perpetuate the unacceptable second-class status that some wish to confer upon them.
And it seems especially unjust that in a state where a man and a woman can simply declare themselves legally married with no ceremony or paperwork involved and enjoy the legal rights of a married couple, two people of the same sex have no way to achieve those same rights or achieve that sense of commitment that comes from being legally bound.
We’d hope that in a compassionate society we could allow everyone to enjoy the same basic rights and privileges. That’s what this bill is setting out to do, to make sure that all long-term couples can live an even legal footing.
It’s high time that the state recognize that two people of the same sex who love each other deserve the same legal protections as married couples.
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