Civil Unions Come to Colorado – Are you Ready to Get Married?

Congratulations to Colorado on recently passing same-sex civil unions! Let the ceremonies begin May 1, 2013!! (Ooh, and let us remind you that you’ll want a wedding planner ;).  Colorado is the 15th state to pass recognition of same-sex civil unions granting protection under law to those in a same-sex civil union. This is pretty remarkable since in 1992, Colorado was named the “hate state” due to a ban which passed that year.

Along with this excitement, the Supreme Court is hearing arguments on California’s Proposition 8 as well as DOMA.  The rulings on either of these two cases could give cause for even more celebration for same-sex couples here in Colorado. Here’s a quick reference to educate yourself on what Proposition 8 and DOMA actually are.

DOMA is the Federal Defense of Marriage Act of 1996. DOMA legally defines marriage between one man and one woman, denies federal recognition of same-sex marriages and gives each state the right to refuse recognition of same-sex marriage license from other states. The act was signed in 1996 by President Bill Clinton and since then, the former President and key legislators have changed their views and have advocated for DOMA appeal.  As of now, under the act same-sex marriages are denied federal benefits such as insurance benefits for government employees, immigration, social security survivor benefits and joint tax return filings. In 2011, the Obama Administration has stated the act as unconstitutional and although they will uphold the law, it will not defend the act in court. The United States Supreme Court is hearing an appeal in United States v. Windsor and oral arguments started March 27th.

Proposition 8 is similar to DOMA, but on a State level in California.  Proposition 8, signed in 2008, legally defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman as well. As a result of Proposition 8, the State of California no longer performs same-sex marriages. In 2010, United States District Court Judge Vaughn Walker overturned Proposition 8 in the case Perry v. Schwarzenegger, ruling it violated both Due Process and Equality Protection clause of the US Constitution. February 2012, a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel affirmed Judge Walkers decision that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. June 2012, the Ninth Circuit Court denied a rehearing in front of the whole bench and stayed the ruling pending appeal. July 2012 a petition was filed for the United States Supreme Court to review the case. In December 2012 the Court agreed.  March 26th oral arguments started and the Court is expected to issue its ruling by late June 2013.

Hope this was informative! Until next time…. Veronica

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