Civil Unions Takes Effect
MESA COUNTY, Colo.- At the stroke of midnight, history is made as civil unions took effect for Colorado residents. After two years of being denied by the State Legislature, Colorado couples will now enjoy the legal benefits of civil unions. "It's a really exciting time, just a really exciting time in our state," said Heidi Hess, and Helen Bowman, partners. Civil Unions grant unmarried couples both gay and heterosexual, rights similar to marriage. "The benefits are very real," said Hess. Those benefits include transferring property, making medical decisions, adopting children, and qualifying for health insurance and survivor benefits. "[I remember] My dad asking me 'do you ever think that you will see anything like any sort of relationship recognition for LGBT folks in your life time?' I went, 'oh no, do you think you'll see that?' He was like 'oh no,' "said Hess. For the two women, it was love at first site, but it's been a long journey. "Many trips up to Denver, volunteers getting post cards signed, working at phone banks. This is an opportunity for them, and for us to celebrate," said Hess. For those who oppose civil unions, the couple has one thing to say. "For people who don't agree with it, I guess what I want to say to them is my relationship doesn't threaten yours," said Hess. The couple now will enjoy the little things that are enabled easier through civil unions, like changing their last name. "We're talking about hyphenating it, we haven't actually landed on that yet," said Hess. Their next step is to host a ceremony with the important people in their lives to have their relationship acknowledged. "We're doing a ceremony at our church with our minister, and our families are going to be there," said Hess. They say their minister will sign their license. "We did it, you know we made a difference," said Hess. One Colorado is hosting a civil union's celebration from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday night in the gymnasium of the Center for Independence. It's open to the public, and there will be cake and music. Officials say there are now nine states that recognize same-sex marriage in some way, shape or form.