There wasn’t enough rainbow-colored cake to go around Wednesday morning.
Hundreds of gays and lesbians were recognized as couples under the law at courthouses in Colorado early Wednesday when civil unions became legal in the state for the first time, and hundreds more gathered to help them celebrate.
After the clock struck 12:01 a.m., the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder’s office issued 48 civil union certificates, according to a news release, and Denver issued over 100.
The Boulder clerk’s office remained open until about 2:15 a.m. and Denver until 3 a.m. for couples eager to take advantage of their rights under the new law.
Colorado’s civil-union couples will be afforded similar legal rights as married couples in Colorado, including transferring property, making medical decisions, adopting children and qualifying for health insurance and survivor benefits. It will also allow couples a legal outline for separating assets in cases of “divorce,” though that term is technically only used in marriages.
Civil unions will not allow couples to file for joint income tax returns, a federal break restricted to married couples.
Speaker of the Colorado House and one of the sponsors of the civil unions bill, Rep. Mark Ferrandino was present throughout the Tuesday proceedings.
After watching a similar civil unions bill die on the House floor last year, Ferrandino and fellow bill sponsors made it a priority in the newly Democrat-controlled chamber in 2013.
Amazing – watching so many friends enter into a civil union tonight and knowing I had a small part in making it happen!! #coleg
— Mark Ferrandino (@MarkFerrandino) May 1, 2013
Colorado Public Radio’s Megan Verlee reported earlier in the evening that Ferrandino and his partner, Greg Wertsch, did not receive a certificate Wednesday because they plan to seek one on Memorial Day.
U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock performed several of the civil union ceremonies in the first hours of May 1. Local judges and magistrates were also on hand.
El Paso County began issuing certificates at 8 a.m. Wednesday without any fanfare while some Pueblo County officials and advocates plan an 11 a.m. rally on the steps of the county courthouse followed by a mass civil union ceremony. The Boulder clerk’s office opened and was ready to issue more certificates at its normal time Wednesday, 8 a.m., at 1750 33rd St. in Boulder.
Colorado became the eighth state to have civil unions or similar laws after Senate Bill 11 was passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper in March. Nine states and the District of Columbia allow gay marriage.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Contact CU Independent Managing Editor Alison Noon at Alison.firstname.lastname@example.org.