Proposed Colorado Law would not allow Same-Sex Marriages, but still allow Civil Unions. Can they do that?

A new proposal in Colorado sounds like an argument too little too late.  Or is it?  Could a proposal to reaffirm same-sex civil unions in Colorado meet the same SCOTUS requirement to allowing same-sex marriages?

A proposed ballot initiative filed Thursday would redefine same-sex marriages in Colorado as civil unions. A second initiative would allow wedding-related businesses opposed to gay marriage to hire a contractor to serve the couples.  Keeping gay marriage out of Colorado could be difficult, if not impossible, since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 26 that same-sex couples have a right to marry nationwide.

Dave Montez, the executive director of One Colorado, the state's largest advocacy group for gay rights, said the initiatives are an attempt to undo the Supreme Court decision.  "This initiative is an unnecessary attempt to radically redefine all marriages in Colorado in order to undermine the Supreme Court's recent decision," he said. "Even before last week's Supreme Court decision, the 37 states that already had marriage equality had proven that when loving, committed, gay couples share in the freedom to marry, families are helped and no one is hurt." – denverpost.com

Same-sex civil unions are already legal in Colorado since its legislature "approved civil unions in 2013, seven years after the state's voters approved Amendment 43, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman, with 56 percent in support."

Were same-sex marriages legal in Colorado before June 26th?  In a round about way, yes.

On Oct. 6, [2014] the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear any appeals concerning same-sex marriage. Two of the states that had appeals before the Supreme Court — Oklahoma and Utah — are under the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which also includes Colorado. The 10th Circuit previously had found gay marriage bans in Utah and Oklahoma to be unconstitutional. By declining to hear those appeals, the Supreme Court effectively made the appeals court's rulings final and legalized same-sex marriage in Colorado and five other states within the district. – denverpost.com

But if same sex-civil unions were already okay in Colorado, what would this first proposed ballot initiative do?

Any same-sex couple married before the proposed amendment takes effect or in another state would have their relationship redefined as a civil union, which carries some but not all of the legal rights of marriage. – denverpost.com

Why are some individuals in Colorado proposing such a ballot initiative?  Is it a way for Colorado to say to SCOTUS, "Thanks but no thanks?  What we have works just fine for us and our citizens."

Each measure would need at least 98,492 verified signatures from registered voters to get on the ballot.  State Rep. Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City, said the point of the gay marriage amendment is moot.  "I think this is more of a political statement than anything," said Moreno, who serves on the Colorado House Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Caucus. "You can't override the Supreme Court, especially at the state level."

 Montez called the proposal "mean-spirited, vague and poorly written."

"Allowing business owners to refuse service to customers whom they dislike, or disapprove, will open a can of worms and make it more difficult to enforce Colorado's laws that ensure businesses are open to everyone," he said. – denverpost.com

So, yes.  It does seem that if this proposal does receive enough signatures to get on the ballot, it would be just Colorado's way of telling the Supreme Court and the rest of the nation that there are many that still disagree with June 26th's ruling.  But would almost 100,000 signatures be something to take note of?  Remember, there are two initiatives being proposed.

The proposed change to state law on weddings would require the state to maintain a list of businesses willing to provide services to LGBT couples, so that those opposed could contract with them.  "That doesn't change anything," Moreno said. "You're still treating people differently based on who they are."  Legislation that resulted from two Denver-area bakers refusing to make cakes — a refusal by a baker to make cake for a gay couple, and another baker who refused to make an anti-gay cake — prompted a bill in the last legislative session to allow bakers or others to refuse service if the request violated their religious values. – denverpost.com

If both proposals make the ballot, it seems the one relating to civil unions pass or not, would be going against SCOTUS.  But would the second if passes by public ballot be legal if it were state law?

Thanks to Joey Bunch from the Denver Post for the original article.

jbunch@denverpost.com or twitter.com/joeybunch

 

2 thoughts on “Proposed Colorado Law would not allow Same-Sex Marriages, but still allow Civil Unions. Can they do that?”

  1. Before same sex marriage

    Before same sex marriage became legal, civil unions were requested but denied in most places. The few places that granted civil unions severely restricted the benefits. Never thinking same sex marriage would EVER become legal they shot themselves in the foot. Now they want to backtrack and allow civil unions. Too late, it's over. They lost.

    Reply
  2. Hell no !  We tried that

    Hell no !  We tried that before and "they" didn't want it and now "they" lost there homophobic hate laws and now "they" want to change it so we aren't the same as them.  We are all human beings and have rights just like all humans in this country.  

    I've been married now since November, the world didn't end, heterosexual people are still married, nothing has changed.

    It's crazy how some people just can't get over the fact that we have the same rights and it offends them.  Get off your high horse !!

    Reply

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