It’s official. Gov. John Hickenlooper on Thursday signed legislation legalizing civil unions in Colorado between same-sex couples.
The law, which takes effect May 1, puts Colorado alongside Hawaii, New Jersey, Illinois, Rhode Island and Delaware in legalizing civil unions. It’s been a long time coming, said Mindy Barton, legal director for the GLBT Community Center of Colorado, adding that she thinks as goes Colorado, so may the nation.
“If we really do want to be a country that’s looked to for treating people equally and fairly,” she said, “this has to be something that changes at a national level as well as individual states.”
The U.S. Supreme Court is to take up two cases on same-sex marriage next week. Critics have said the Colorado civil unions law violates the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, and some warn there could be a court challenge to its legality.
Kirsten Marshall, who has been lobbying to help pass civil unions in Colorado for the past three years, said she thinks public opinion has shifted radically since voters approved the ban in 2006.
“If you were to take this vote back to the people, it would pass just as quickly as it passed through the Legislature the other day,” she said. “The general view of the GLBT community is evolving and it’s changing and it’s becoming something that’s not this scary stereotypical bubble.”
Barton said the center will be holding a series of workshops next month called “Civil Unions 101” to help people understand what the new law means for them.
“It is for individuals who want to know what the process look like, what steps do I take to get a civil union, and what kinds of things should I consider before entering into one,” she said.
She said leaders of the center also are thinking about creating online workshops for people who can’t attend the sessions.