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February 18, 2009


When Colorado passed a constitutional same-sex marriage ban in 2006, it didn't prohibit civil unions or other forms of partner benefits.

That loophole left the door open for the state's House Judiciary Committee to pass, by a 7-3 vote, what they are calling a "Designated Beneficiary Agreements" bill.

Introduced by Democratic Rep. Mark Ferrandino from Denver, House Bill 09-1260 would allow "2 competent adults who are not married to enter into a designated beneficiary agreement, making each adult a designated beneficiary of the other."

If passed by the legislature, this bill would allow designated beneficiaries to:

• Be a conservator or guardian for the other designated beneficiary;

• Be treated as a beneficiary under the other designated beneficiary's benefits for life insurance;

• Be treated as a dependent under the other designated beneficiary's benefits for health insurance if the designated beneficiary's employer elects to provide coverage to designated beneficiaries;

• Have the right to visit the other designated beneficiary in the hospital or in a nursing home;

• Inherit through intestate succession upon the death of the other designated beneficiary;

• Have standing to sue for wrongful death of the other designated beneficiary;

• Act as an agent to make, revoke, or object to anatomical gifts involving the other designated beneficiary;

• Direct the disposition of the other designated beneficiary's last remains.

The bill also states that:
"...domestic partners or parties in a civil union registered or recognized pursuant to another jurisdiction shall be deemed to have executed a designated beneficiary agreement if the parties otherwise qualify as designated beneficiaries. States that a legal contract pursuant to another jurisdiction's law which is not valid in Colorado pursuant to the state constitutional provision regarding the recognition of marriages shall be treated as a designated beneficiary agreement if the parties qualify to enter into a designated beneficiary agreement and both parties are present or reside in Colorado."

One thing that may help this bill's passage is the fact that the Designated Beneficiary Agreements are open to all unmarried couples and would benefit heterosexual and homosexual couples alike.

Regardless of the ultimate outcome, this is a bold step in the right direction and shows that there are still enough fair minded and very creative lawmakers in Colorado who are working very hard to provide legal partnership equality without violating the ban approved in 2006.

Yes, this would still be a "separate but equal" kind of structure but I have no doubt that fully equal marriage recognition WILL COME not only in Colorado but across the entire country as well. It's only a matter of time.

The right wing fanatics know this too. That's why they're becoming more and more frenetic in their frantic, feeble attempts to mislead the public with increasingly absurd lies and distortions.