Many readers of this blog may be aware of the October 6 action by the United States Supreme Court, which effectively legalized same-sex marriage in Colorado. The high court declined to hear several appeals of decisions ruling same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional.
One of those decisions was from the federal Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes Colorado. When the Supreme Court declined to hear the appeals, the Tenth Circuit decision ruling gay marriage bans unconstitutional became final. Colorado’s Attorney General acknowledged the effect of the Supreme Court’s action the following day, and instructed county clerks around the state to begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses.
Prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage, Colorado passed a civil unions law that granted some, but not all, the benefits of marriage to same-sex couples. The legalization of same-sex marriage does not change the civil unions law; those couples who have a civil union will still have one, and county clerks will continue to issue civil union licenses. A civil union does not automatically become a marriage because of the Supreme Court’s action, however.
Now that same-sex marriage is legal in Colorado, gay couples throughout the state can enjoy the same rights as straight couples when it comes to the legal benefits of marriage. Those benefits include income tax benefits, the right to inherit a spouse’s property when there is no will, Social Security and Medicare benefits and countless others. The benefits of marriage also include legal protections if the couple splits up: the right to divorce and the related rights to child custody, visitation, child support and alimony or spousal maintenance.
Source: Denver Post, “Same-sex marriage in Colorado: 11 answers to commonly asked questions,” Jordan Steffen, Oct. 19, 2014