The Colorado Senate [official website] on Thursday approved a bill [SB 172 text, PDF] that would grant same-sex couples the legal right to civil unions [JURIST news archive]. The Colorado Civil Unions Act [legislative history] says that the legal benefits, protections and responsibilities that the law gives married couples will also be given to civil unions. The bill lists certain rights included in its definition, including the ability to adopt a child and share benefits. Despite these protections, the text of the Act adds that "The Act shall not be construed to create a marriage between the parties to a civil union, create or recognize a legal status similar to marriage, or alter the public policy of this state that recognizes only the union of one man and one woman as a marriage." The bill will now advance to the House of Representatives where its passage is uncertain [Reuters report]. Governor John Hickenlooper (D) [official website] has pledged to sign the measure into law if it is approved by the House.
Last month, Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie (D) [official profile] signed [JURIST report] the same-sex civil unions bill [SB 232 text, PDF] into law, legalizing same-sex civil unions in the state. The legislation will go into effect on January 1, 2012, and extends the same rights, benefits, protections and responsibilities of spouses in a marriage to partners in a civil union. Also in February, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn (D) [official website] signed a bill [JURIST report] legalizing same-sex civil unions. While several states now allow same-sex civil unions, only six US jurisdictions allow same-sex marriage [JURIST news archive], including Washington, DC, Vermont, New Hampshire, Iowa, Connecticut and Massachusetts [JURIST reports].