Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper [official website] on Thursday signed the "Colorado Civil Union Act," [text, PDF] which will allow civil unions for same-sex couples in the state. The legislation explicitly provides same-sex couples with many of the benefits held by married couples, including dependent insurance coverage and the ability to adopt a partner's child. It goes on to provide that the "rights, benefits, protections, duties, obligations, responsibilities, and other incidents under law that are granted or imposed under the law to spouses apply in like manner to parties to a civil union." Earlier this month, the Colorado House of Representatives [official website] voted [JURIST report] 39-26 in favor of the bill. Colorado is now the ninth state to grant civil unions for same-sex couples.
Issues surrounding same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] remain controversial throughout the US. Later this month, the US Supreme Court will hear arguments in two cases related to same-sex marriage. In Hollingsworth v. Perry [docket; cert. petition, PDF], the court will examine the validity of Proposition 8 [JURIST news archive], a California referendum that revoked same-sex marriage rights. In United States v. Windsor [docket; cert. petition, PDF], the court will examine the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) [text; JURIST news archive]. Same-sex marriage is currently legal in nine US states, as well as the District of Columbia. Last month the Illinois senate approved [JURIST report] same-sex marriage legislation. In January the Rhode Island House of Representatives approved a similar bill [JURIST report].