Colorado

STATUS:

Marriage

WINNING MARRIAGE:

On October 6, 2014, the United States Supreme Court denied review of two federal legal cases in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled that denying same-sex couples the freedom to marry in Utah and Oklahoma is unconstitutional. Because Colorado is also in the 10th Circuit, the ruling created a binding precedent throughout the circuit, including in Colorado. Following the Supreme Court’s decision to deny review, all parties agreed that a stay in a separate federal marriage ruling in Colorado – which also declared the state’s ban unconstitutional – should be lifted.

The stay was in a July 23 ruling, when U.S. District Court Judge Raymond P. Moore struck down Colorado’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples in Burns v. Hickenlooper. The decision was stayed pending an appeal to the 10th Circuit, and stayed further pending action from the U.S. Supreme Court. Since the Court denied review in the 10th Circuit cases, all parties argued that it was time to lift the stay and allow the Burns ruling to take effect in Colorado.

HISTORY:

In 2006, anti-gay forces in Colorado pushed through an anti-marriage constitutional amendment that excluded same-sex couples from marriage.

In 2009, Colorado approved the Designated Beneficiary Agreements Act of 2009, allowing same-sex couples to access some of the benefits that marriage affords.

In February 2011, the Colorado legislature considered the Colorado Civil Union Act of 2011, which passed out of the state Senate but failed in the House. In May 2012, the Colorado legislature was set to discuss the Colorado Civil Union Act of 2012, which would have granted same-sex couples some of the benefits of marriage. However, due to legislative inaction and a refusal to discuss the bill, the legislation failed.

On March 21, 2013, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill into law to allow same-sex couples to join together in civil union. The law took effect on May 1.

On July 9, 2014, District Court Judge C. Scott Crabtree struck down Colorado’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples in two consolidated state court cases seeking the freedom to marry and respect for marriages legally performed in other states. The ruling was stayed pending the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in a separate case, filed in federal court (see above). 

POLLING DATA: 

Colorado: Support for the freedom to marry has reached a record high in Colorado, with 56% in support and only 36% who are opposed. Voters under 45 favor marriage for same-sex couples by a 71/21 margin. (Public Policy Polling, March 2014)

GROUPS ACTIVELY WORKING ON MARRIAGE:

  • Why Marriage Matters Colorado is the grassroots public education campaign to build support for the freedom to marry in Colorado.
  • One Colorado is a statewide advocacy organization dedicated to securing and protecting equality and opportunity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Coloradans and their families.
  • The ACLU of Colorado is the state affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, committed to standing up for equality for all Coloradans.
  • Freedom to Marry is the campaign to win marriage for same-sex couples nationwide.

NUMBER OF SAME-SEX COUPLES:

According to The Williams Institute's analysis of the 2010 U.S. Census, 12,424 same-sex couples are living in Colorado, representing 6.3 same-sex couples per 1,000 households.

Blog Posts Related to Colorado

Federal judge in Colorado strikes down marriage ban in 27th pro-marriage ruling

Today, July 23, U.S. District Court Judge Raymond P. Moore struck down Colorado’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples, following a month-long flurry of activity on marriage in the Centennial State.

Colorado judge strikes down state’s marriage ban; 24th consecutive win in 1 year

Today, July 9, a state judge struck down Colorado’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples, marking the 24th consecutive ruling in favor of the freedom to marry (with no rulings against) since June 2013.

New federal lawsuit challenges marriage ban in Colorado following 10th Circuit ruling

Today, six same-sex couples from across Colorado filed a federal lawsuit challenging Colorado’s ban on the freedom to marry. A separate case was also heard last month, on June 16th, seeking the freedom to marry.

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Resources Related to Colorado

Southern Poverty Law Center: 18 Anti-Gay Groups and Their Propaganda

The Southern Poverty Law Center provides a detailed listing of anti-gay groups know for their dangerous propaganda aimed at lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Party Principles: Support for the Freedom to Marry by State and National Political Parties

A listing of both state and national political parties that have made strong statements in support of the freedom to marry.

Colorado Census Snapshot

Demographic and economic information about same-sex couples and same-sex couples raising children in Colorado.

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