Same-sex marriages between gay or lesbian couples are not permitted in Colorado. Colorado law requires a marriage to be between one man and one woman. C.R.S. 14-2-104(1)(b).
Moreover, Colorado will not recognize as valid same-sex marriages performed outside of Colorado, even if the marriage were legal under the jurisdiction where it was performed. C.R.S. 14-2-104(2). So a same-sex couple who married out-of-state are unable to obtain a dissolution of marriage in Colorado.
In 1996, as a reaction to Hawaii's pending legalization of same-sex marriages, Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act, which codified two provisions into federal law:
"In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word “marriage” means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word “spouse” refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife." 1 U.S. Code §7. This means that the federal government will not recognize any marriage other than one between one man and one woman, regardless of whether a gay/lesbian couple is legally married under the laws of their state.
No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship. 28 U.S. Code §1738C. This section therefore authorizes states to not recognize as valid same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.
In 2006, Colorado voters defeated, by 53% to 47%, a ballot initiative which would have authorized domestic partnerships.
A bill to establish civil unions in Colorado died on procedural grounds in the Colorado House of Representatives in May 2012, after passing the Senate, and the three House committees which were required to approve the legislation. As the bill had majority support, and support from the governor, this issue is likely to be raised again in the near future.
Same Sex Marriage Alternatives
- Designated Beneficiary Agreements. It's not a domestic partnership or civil union, but it does give unmarried couples, including gay & lesbian couples, the right to receive death benefits, inherit without a will, make medical decisions, etc.
- Allocation of Parental Responsibilities. Gay & lesbian couples can still share parental responsibilities, and have court-ordered parenting time upon breaking up.
- Same-sex adoption. Colorado law allows any two adults to adopt
Wikipedia has an exhaustive article on the Defense of Marriage Act, including its legal challenges.
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